The United States Supreme Court has decided that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA, will continue. DACA was an executive order President Obama put forth in 2012 to give temporary legal status and provide protection from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. There are currently around 700,000 DACA recipients. The program provides work permits and allows drivers licenses to people who qualify. It does not provide a path to citizenship, but it allows for a two-year legal status, able to be renewed after that two-year period. To be eligible, individuals must have arrived in the United States before their sixteenth birthday, were thirty years old or younger as of June 2012, and have continuously resided in the United States since June 2007 up until the present. They must also be in school or have graduated and not have a significant criminal record.
The Trump Administration terminated the program in 2017, but they were still accepting renewals of DACA (but not new applicants) until the Supreme Court made their decision. The Court declared today in a 5- 4 opinion that the 2012 program was inappropriately terminated by the Trump administration. They made it clear that their decision does not reflect their opinion on whether DACA is a sound policy. They only addressed whether the Department of Homeland Security complied with the requirement of providing a reasonable explanation for its termination of the program. The Court ruled that DHS did not provide a reasonable enough explanation, as the agency failed to consider the hardship that would be done to these immigrants should the program be terminated. According to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who was the majority in the case, the “decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious” and “must be vacated.” Studies show that over 90% of DACA recipients are employed, and 45% are in school. Advocates have also pointed out that around 30,000 work in the health care industry and are currently on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The ruling proclaims that the DACA program can indeed continue, but it leaves uncertainty as to whether the government will start taking new DACA cases again. At the Shulman Law Group we will keep you updated on all news surrounding DACA, including if new recipients can now apply.