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New Hope for DACA Recipients

December 20, 2016|Contributed by: Alexander D. McShiras, Esq.

Last month, Donald Trump was elected to be the next president of the United States. I wrote in this blog that it is very likely that Mr. Trump will end the DACA program during his presidency. On December 9, Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham introduced a bi-partisan bill in the Senate that would preserve many of the key protections of the DACA program. Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham unveiled legislation on Friday December 9 to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation under President-elect Donald Trump ― now the question is whether it will work.

The bipartisan bill, called the Bridge Act, would effectively maintain the protections of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA. Upwards of 740,000 young people and counting, were granted deportation reprieve and work permits under the program, but could now lose those protections, should Trump follow through on a promise to end DACA immediately upon taking office.

The Durbin-Graham measure could serve two purposes: If it passes, so-called Dreamers could live without constant fear of deportation and continue to legally work. If it doesn’t, it could still put pressure on Trump to leave DACA recipients alone.

The new bill would put DACA recipients into a new type of status, “provisional protected presence,” that would last for three years from enactment. It would not be constrained to only those who currently have DACA: eligible individuals who have not yet applied could be granted provisional protected presence as well. All would have to pay a fee, undergo a background check and meet the eligibility requirements for DACA.

The bill would also ensure that information individuals gave the government for DACA or for the new provisional protected presence could not be used for immigration enforcement, with exceptions for national security or non-immigration felony investigations.

The politics could be tough, but Durbin said he is hopeful. Thus far, the Bridge Act has three other co-sponsors (2 Republicans and a Democrat): Senators Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake, and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Durbin said there is a long list of Democrats who want to join, but they are aiming to add people in pairs ― one Republican and one Democrat. They will reintroduce the bill in 2017.

Although it is likely that Mr. Trump will end the DACA program, it is possible that this bill will pass in Congress. This would need to be accomplished before President Obama leaves office on January 20, 2016. Otherwise, Mr. Trump may veto it. Last week, Trump told Time magazine that he will find some solution for people with DACA that will satisfy everyone. However, he gave no specifics and I believe that it is highly unlikely that anything Mr. Trump does will satisfy everyone.

If you have a case pending with us, you are in much better shape than anyone without a lawyer. If you already have DACA, we recommend that you renew your status at the first opportunity. Please work with us to get your case filed as quickly as possible, given the uncertainty. If you are currently undocumented, but you are eligible to file for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or naturalization, now is the time to do it.
If you have any questions regarding how President Elect Trump’s new administration may affect your case come January 20, 2017, please contact Joseph Law Firm PC.