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DACA Cancellation

On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced it would begin phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As you know, DACA was a program instituted under President Obama in 2012 through which certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16, met certain educational requirements, and had clean criminal records, could apply for renewable protection from deportation and work permits. Between 700,000 and 800,000 people in the United States have DACA, approximately 42,000 of whom live in Illinois. Unfortunately, because DACA was an executive action, not a law passed by Congress, the president has always had the power to cancel DACA at any time.

DACA is being withdrawn in phases:

I.  Phase 1 – No initial DACA applications accepted after September 5, 2017:
The first stage, which went into effect immediately, applies to initial DACA applications: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not accept any initial DACA applications received after September 5, 2017. This means that if you want to apply for DACA for the first time, you cannot do so unless your application was received by immigration by September 5, 2017. This also applies to people whose DACA has lapsed for more than a year without being renewed, because they are also considered to be initial DACA applicants.

II.  Phase 2 – DACA Renewals limited to DACAs expiring between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018:
The next stage applies to people whose DACA status will expire between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018. These DACA recipients are eligible to renew their DACA, but their applications must be received by October 5, 2017. Once renewed, they will receive a two year extension of their DACA. If the renewal application is not received by October 5, 2017, then their DACA status cannot be renewed, and they will lose DACA once their status expires. USCIS has clarified that if your DACA has expired before September 5 and you have not applied to renew it, you cannot renew DACA.

Finally, people whose DACA status will expire after March 5, 2018 are ineligible to renew DACA, and they will simply lose DACA once their status expires.

Taken together, this phase out means that the only people who can renew DACA are people whose DACA status will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, and who file an application before October 5, 2017. No other DACA applications will be accepted.

DACA related travel permits will no longer be issued:
DACA recipients had previously been eligible to apply for a travel permit, called advance parole, which allowed someone with DACA to leave the country and return. While re-entry was not guaranteed, most people returned successfully.

The Trump administration has stated that advance parole based on DACA will no longer be issued at all. This means that no new advance parole applications will be accepted, and also means that applications that have already been submitted and are still pending will be rejected as well (and filing fees will be returned).

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that people who have already had advance parole applications approved are technically still eligible to travel, but also stated that they reserve the right to deny re-entry to anyone.

The decision about whether to travel if you already have advance parole is a very difficult and personal one. It is extremely risky, because there is no guarantee of re-entry, even though the applicant would technically be eligible to return to the United States. Many attorneys are recommending that no one leave on advance parole at all.

How does the cancellation of DACA affect me?
The most obvious immediate impact is that people with DACA will lose their work permits once their DACA expires and they can no longer renew it. This means they will no longer be able to work legally in the United States. They will also begin accruing unlawful presence, which could impact their ability to apply for immigration benefits in the future. But perhaps most importantly, they will be subject to deportation, like anyone else who is in the United States illegally.

It is unclear whether people with DACA will actually be deported once their DACA expires. On one hand, President Trump has said that people with DACA are low priorities for deportation and that no one with DACA needs to worry in the next six months. President Trump has also said that if Congress does not pass a law that addresses this issue, he will revisit DACA again in March. However, his administration has effectively done away with priorities and has been pushing to deport all people who are here illegally. Unfortunately, these conflicting signals make it impossible to predict with confidence exactly what will happen to those whose DACA will be expiring. To that end, we strongly recommend following the law, as any arrest or contact with the police will increase your chances of being held by immigration and processed for deportation.

Please note that Senators Dick Durban and Lindsey Graham have recently reintroduced the DREAM Act, and if it passes, it would provide a path to citizenship for people who came to the United States as children and meet certain qualifications. It is important to be involved in the political process right now to push our members of Congress to pass this crucial legislation.

If I have DACA, what should I do now?
The first thing to do is to see if you qualify for renewal. That means if your DACA status will expire before March 5, 2018, you should look into renewing your DACA immediately. Remember that this renewal application must be received by immigration by October 5, 2017. We also recommend speaking with an immigration attorney about any other potential options you might have to apply for lawful immigration status in the United States, especially if you have family members who are U.S. citizens or you have been the victim of a crime.

If you have any questions about your case, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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