On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration in ruling that it had not properly rescinded the program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as “DACA”. The DACA program began in June of 2012.
In September of 2017, the USCIS issued a Memorandum of Decision terminating DACA. The Memorandum allowed for one-time renewals for current DACA holders whose work authorizations would expire within 60 days, but halted all initial applications under DACA and all applications for advance parole. Various court cases were filed, and injunctions issued, most only partially blocking the termination. In its decision, the Supreme Court determined that the government’s reasons for terminating DACA were “arbitrary and capricious” and was therefore improper. The Supreme Court’s decision allows an injunction that was issued by the District of Columbia’s District Court to remain in place. The continuance of the injunction means that DACA remains in effect as it was prior to the issuance of the Memorandum.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s decision affirms that current DACA holders can continue to file for renewals within 150 days of the expiration of their work authorization. In addition, individuals who are eligible for DACA but have never applied can theoretically file a new application to be initially given DACA status. It is unclear, however, how the USCIS will treat new applications for initial DACA status.
The decision also reinstates the ability of certain DACA holders to be issued Advance Parole to temporarily travel abroad for emergent reasons. However, given the global pandemic, it may not be possible to secure that permission or wise to travel at this time.
The DACA program is celebrating its 8th anniversary since implementation on June 15, 2012, during the Obama administration. DACA allows children who came into the United States prior to the age of 16, and before June 15, 2007, to remain in the United States. Applicants must also show that they have continuously resided in the United States, that they have not committed certain crimes, and that they are enrolled in High School or College or have received a high school diploma or its equivalent. Over 700,000 Dreamers, as they are known, have received benefits under the DACA program. Dreamers have become responsible, productive members of our society. As the Court noted, Dreamers have contributed $215 billion in economic activity and $60 billion in Federal Tax Revenue.
The Court’s decision did not consider the legality of the program, nor does it prevent the current administration from properly rescinding the DACA program, something all parties agreed it can do. President Trump has responded to the Court’s decision by stating that he will continue his administration’s efforts to rescind the program. Accordingly, individuals who are eligible for DACA should seek competent legal counsel to properly understand the potential advantages and disadvantages with seeking protection under the DACA program.