DACA IS SCHEDULED TO END NOW WHAT?
In approximately 6 months, on March 5, 2018, the Trump administration is rescinding the DACA program. By now, more details have come out regarding the implementation and repercussions of this decision.
Pending Legislation in Congress
The good news is that there is legislation pending in Congress and more on the way to solve the issue of what to do with people who currently have DACA. The Trump administration stated that it created a six month window to give Congress one more chance to pass legislation to help the DACA population.
- BRIDGE ACT
This bill was introduced by Colorado Representative Mike Coffman on January 12, 2017. The last action taken was on September 5, 2017. On that date, Rep. Coffman successfully brought a discharge petition to bring the bill out of the Judiciary Committee and to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. A vote is expected on this bill during this legislative session.
If enacted, the BRIDGE Act would make it possible for people who meet certain requirements (the same basic requirements as DACA) to apply for and receive “provisional protected presence” and work authorization. However, an approved applicant’s provisional protected presence and work authorization would be valid only from the time the person received it until the point in time that is three years after the BRIDGE Act is enacted. The requirements people would have to meet are essentially the same as the requirements for DACA under the program that was created in 2012.
People who already have DACA would be deemed to have provisional protected presence until their DACA’s expiration date. After that, they would be eligible to apply affirmatively for provisional protected presence.
The BRIDGE bill also would impose restrictions on the sharing of information in DACA and provisional protected presence applications with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for purposes of immigration enforcement.
- RAISE Act:
This bill was introduced by Senator Tom Cotton, in the U.S. Senate on February 13, 2017. It is still in the Judiciary Committee and there is no timetable regarding a potential vote. This bill is seen by many in the immigration law community as bad because it severely limits future immigration to the United States, especially family-based immigration.
The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, would institute several major changes to the American immigration system. Among them:
- Ending the Diversity Visa Program. The program run by the State Department grants an additional 50,000 legal permanent resident visas each year from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. Competition is fierce, with 9.3 million applicants in 2015, for a 0.3 percent acceptance rate.
- Reduce the number of family-sponsored immigrants. Currently, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can petition for other family members for permanent resident status, such as adult children, parents, siblings, spouses, and unmarried minor children. The bill would retain only two categories:: spouses and unmarried minor children.
- Limit U.S. acceptance of refugees. The number of refugees around the world offered refugee status, which is a path to U.S. permanent residency, would be capped at 50,000. Last year the U.S. accepted 84,995 refugees, led by those from Congo, Syria, Burma, and Iraq. The last year in which the U.S. accepted fewer than 50,000 refugees was 2007.
Although there is no provision regarding DACA in the version introduced by Sen. Cotton, it is widely assumed that the bill will be amended to offer a path to citizenship for the DACA population as a way to get Democrats to support the bill. Currently, the bill only has support among some Republicans.
Accumulation of Unlawful Presence
It is important to note that the DACA population is currently protected until their EAD (work permit) expires. This means that they can continue to work and that they have protection against deportation until that expiration date. It also means that they are not accumulating unlawful presence in the United States during the time the work permit is valid. Unlawful presence is a problem for anyone who has to leave the United States in order to consular process, if they have accumulated more than 6 months of unlawful presence. This only applies to people over the age of 18. If you got DACA before the age of 18 and you have continually renewed it, you have not accumulated any unlawful presence. Please ask your immigration attorney if you have any questions regarding unlawful presence.
Screening for other relief
The main takeaway is that if Congress fails to act, DACA will be rescinded and there will be no protection for the DACA population. Therefore, it is a good idea to meet with your attorney to discuss other options. The most common is family-based immigration. Please ask your attorney if there is any family member who can petition for you so that you can eventually become a permanent resident. Please call Joseph Law Firm to schedule an appointment.