Supreme Court Decision Saves DACA for Now

Renewal Processing Has Resumed for Existing DACA Beneficiaries

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has helped hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children continue to work in the country despite their status. First implemented by President Obama in 2012, the program’s restrictive criteria led his administration to attempt a program expansion. That effort was defeated by legal challenges, though the ongoing court battles did not affect the DACA beneficiaries protected under the original eligibility requirements from deportation proceedings.

Some conservative lawmakers continued to voice their displeasure with the program, however, culminating in President Trump announcing a winding down and ultimate end to DACA in 2017. This resulted in an immediate freeze of new application processing. Current DACA recipients were only safe through the end of their current term and were not able to apply for renewals, potentially opening them up to removal from the country. The Trump administration did offer a six-month grace period, challenging Congress to provide a more permanent legislative solution, but the Republican-controlled bodies elected to not act, leaving DACA beneficiaries in jeopardy.

Legal challenges to the Trump administration’s rescinding effort gave DACA immigrants a reprieve, however. The issue eventually arrived at the Supreme Court for arguments in November of 2019. The Court made its decision on June 18, 2020, rejecting the manner in which Trump attempted to end DACA and partially restoring the program in the process. While new applications still cannot be filed as of this writing, existing DACA beneficiaries can once again file for renewals to their status and should be protected from deportation proceedings. Readmittance to the country when traveling abroad is less clear, but restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic may make that uncertainty moot for most.

While many were relieved by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote, others were disappointed by the limited nature of the ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal-leaning Justices and wrote the majority opinion, which explicitly clarified that the decision did not take a position on the fundamental legality of the DACA program. Their ruling only rejected the means in which President Trump sought to end DACA. The “arbitrary and capricious” nature of the action was in violation of federal rules on administrative procedures.

In other words, the Trump administration could attempt another shutdown of DACA. Chief Justice Roberts specifically mentions this possibility in the majority opinion, indicating President Trump might be successful in dismantling DACA if he were to do so through executive action. The brazenness of this assertion is chilling for DACA beneficiaries, as it is possible that the program and its processes could be frozen again at any moment.

There is a chance that the Trump administration will hold off on attempting another DACA shutdown. The 2017 rescinding effort was met with significant criticism, including from some Republican lawmakers, leading some to believe that a second effort could harm the President’s bid for reelection.

Even so, DACA is still vulnerable to future executive action. Some have been comforted by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, speaking out in support of the program. Were Biden to win election, it is plausible the program would be relatively safe for the length of his term. Still, a more permanent legislative solution passed by Congress is needed. Without one, DACA immigrants remain vulnerable to the whims of the current White House occupant.

Act Now on DACA

The DACA program’s continuing susceptibility to shutdown efforts means eligible immigrants should not delay in filing to renew their status. Our immigration attorney at the Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen, PLLC understands the stress and uncertainty inherent to the process and endeavors to give every client the empathetic attention they need and deserve. Our practice is committed to treating our clients like family, and we will do everything in our power to fight for your right to live and work in the United States.

Our immigration lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes in your DACA documentation. Errors can cause significant processing delays, and time is of the essence. Dial (704) 870-0340 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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