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The Trump Administration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On August 15th, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program was implemented by the Obama Administration to benefit the undocumented youth of the United States. The goal of the program was to safeguard undocumented youth from removal proceedings and to give them the opportunity to attain employment authorization for two years (with a renewal option) and Social Security numbers. When the program began around 1.2 million undocumented children were eligible, and since then approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants also knows as dreamers, were given the opportunity to live what many call “The American Dream”. They just needed to meet the following requirements to be considered for the program:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

5.Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;

6.Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Although 800,000 seems like a lot, a lot more of the “dreamers” could have been protected under the DACA policy. The policy has changed under the Trump Administration. As of September 5th, 2017, UCSIS is required to reject first time DACA applicants. However, the immigration agency may still consider renewal applications if a DACA recipient files the following:

1. Form I-821D, a Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals;

2. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization;

3. Form I-765 Worksheet which determines whether or not the applicant has an economic need to work.

President Trump attempted to terminate the program, but the Supreme Court has not allowed him to do so. Although the program is still in place to some extent, major companies in the United States such as Procter and Gamble have been hesitant to hire members of the DACA program because their future is unclear, at any point they might be wrongfully removed from the United States. On June 18th, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration improperly terminated the DACA program. On July 17th, 2020 shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, Judge Paul Grimm of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in favor of DACA with the intention of returning the program to its original state. The Trump administration countered by rejecting first time applicants and accepting applications for employment authorization from those who previously had DACA status.

Today the future of DACA is unclear, the program was created in 2012 to help a large group of immigrants feel protected and have access to opportunities they didn’t have in the past. Due to the Trump administration, it has done the complete opposite in the past few years. DACA is technically still in place, however, the Trump administration has limited the number of people who may benefit.

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of Elizee Law Firm, an immigration and family law firm located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. She can be reached at Ph: 305-371-8846.


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