Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on September 5th that the Trump administration planned to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but DACA recipients may have other options available to help avoid inconveniences.
The DACA program enabled certain immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to acquire work permits along with avoidance of removal for two-year renewable periods. The announcement explained the details of the administration’s planned closure of the program.
Steps to Eliminate DACA
There are two main steps that the Trump administration plans to put into action to put an end to DACA.
First, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be unable to process or adjudicate new initial DACA applications as of the 5th of September, 2017. After October 5, USCIS will no longer be able to receive and adjudicate DACA renewal applications. However, if individuals wish to qualify for DACA renewal, they must have a DACA status that expires no later than March 5 of next year. USCIS will reject all renewal applications that fall outside of these requirements.
However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made it clear that all individuals with a two-year work permit stemming from the DACA will be permitted to continue employment, remaining protected from removal until the expiration date that appears on their employment authorization documents. DACA recipients will also be able to avoid enforcement of removal for at least six months while Congress continues to debate the issue.
Relief Options for DACA Recipients
DACA recipients have a variety of other options to avoid removal. Some of these options include:
- Family-based adjustment of status, which allows DACA recipients to apply for permanent residency if they are part of a family through marriage, sibling relationships, parent-child relationships, or others.
- Employment-based adjustment of status, which enables DACA recipients to gain sponsorship through an employer for permanent residency via a green card.
- Petition of legal status granted by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), for certain children, spouses, or parents who have been the victims of domestic abuse or cruelty by a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
- Asylum relief for individuals who are either afraid or unwilling to return to their native country due to past or impending persecution.
In the end, the elimination of the DACA will be an inconvenience for many, but other options will be available.