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The future of DACA

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2022 | Immigration Policies |

An upcoming federal court decision could pose a severe threat to participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in California and throughout the U.S. If the court rules as expected, it could result in DACA recipients losing their work permits and facing a threat of deportation.

Understanding DACA

DACA is a program that former President Barack Obama’s administration established through executive action. Under this program, undocumented immigrants who were younger than age 31 on June 15, 2012, and who were brought to the U.S. as children under the age of 16 were eligible for DACA as long as they had continuously lived in the U.S. since 2007. DACA does not provide an immigration pathway for recipients to become lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. However, it does provide qualifying recipients with work permits, Social Security numbers, and protection from deportation and removal proceedings. Since the program’s inception, it has been subject to multiple legal challenges, including the one that is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Impending court decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is among the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country. The court is expected to rule following an appeal from a U.S. District Court decision in Texas. The lower court judge found that DACA was illegal from its inception. The 5th Circuit is similarly expected to find that DACA was illegal from the beginning. If that happens, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients throughout the country could lose their work authorizations and be subject to deportation proceedings.

President Joseph R. Biden’s administration has stated that it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if the 5th Circuit rules as anticipated. However, the Supreme Court may also find that the DACA program is illegal. Current DACA recipients should apply to renew their DACA well in advance of their current expiration dates since their DACA status will be good for two years. This could give them time to explore other avenues for immigration so that they might remain in the country even if DACA ends.


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