News & Views

6 Months since President Trump rescinded DACA: What Now?

Today, March 5, was supposed to be a deadline for Congress. Today was supposed to be the day that the DACA status would start expiring for good.

In the courts:

But since September 5, two federal judges, the first in San Francisco and the second in Brooklyn ruled that the way that the president terminated DACA was unlawful. They required the government to continue processing DACA renewal requests for those who are enrolled in the program and whose enrollment lapsed.

On February 26, the Supreme Court declined the administration’s uncommon request to bypass the appellate courts to make a ruling on DACA. That means that it will take months for DACA to make it through the court system.

What do the court decisions mean for Dreamers?

For those almost 700,000 individuals who were lucky enough to have DACA before September 5, 2017, they are able to apply for renewal and keep their status for the time being. At the moment, no one is losing status.

On the other hand, for those who were eligible, but did not have DACA before September 5, 2017—because they had not yet turned 15, had been afraid to apply, or some other reason—they still do not have a chance to gain a status that can be life changing and they continue to be at risk of being deported to a country that they have never known.

What has happened in Congress?

Throughout January, Senators worked together to reach a bipartisan deal on immigration that included legalizing Dreamers, adding to border security, ending the diversity visa lottery, and more.  By January 18, Senate Democrats united to demand that the spending bill must protect Dreamers. After shutting down the government for less than a day, Senate Democrats helped pass a spending bill in exchange for the promise that DACA legislation would be brought to the Senate floor. However, although four versions of immigration legislation made it to the Senate Floor in early Februarynone passed.

Why is there a stalemate?

Although 83% of Americans support continuing the DACA program, the legislative proposals continue to pit dreamers against every other immigrant by containing provisions that would eliminate family-based immigration and the diversity lottery as well as substantially increase immigration enforcement. The stalemate shows starkly one other point of intersection which is that our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of reform. There is, however, sharp disagreement about whether the reforms should close doors or open them.