On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Trump administration’s 2017 attempt to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was legally improper because the government agency failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its action. The 5 to 4 decision did not address whether the DACA program itself is lawful or was lawfully created, but it did note that the Trump administration does have the power to rescind DACA and remanded the case for DHS to “consider the problem anew.”
The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for the nearly 650,000 people who benefit from the DACA program, also known as “Dreamers,” protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work and reside lawfully in the United States if they meet the eligibility requirements for the program. The DACA program was initially created by the Obama administration in 2012.
For the time being, under the current decision, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must continue processing the following types of DACA requests:
In addition, because the Court’s decision requires DHS to maintain the DACA program as it was created in 2012, unless and until DHS follows the correct procedure to terminate the program, USCIS should begin accepting initial DACA requests and applications for advance parole (travel documents). At this time, though, USCIS has not issued guidance on when and how they will be processing these matters.
While last week’s Supreme Court decision is fantastic news for the immediate future of the DACA program, advocates expect that the Trump administration will likely try again to rescind the program, this time trying to provide more “sound” reasoning for its action. However, when this may happen is unknown, as it could be very soon or DHS could wait until after the November presidential election—or any other time of their choosing.
In the meantime, Congress has the power to grant lasting relief to Dreamers, all of whom came to the United States as children and for whom the United States is the only home they know. Congress needs to take action immediately and pass bipartisan legislation granting permanent legal status and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other childhood arrivals, preventing hundreds of thousands and their families and communities from continuing to live in uncertainty, fear, and legal limbo.
Please stay tuned for continued updates via this website and our Facebook page throughout this time.
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