Will Congress Act?
By Charles Jackson
The much-awaited news regarding whether the Trump Administration will phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), program or not, hit the newsstand today. U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions announced the end of the immigration program. Under the program, nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children were protected from deportation and provided them with legal work authorization. The program was initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
In a press statement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), which administers the program through the lead agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), says it will stop processing any initial DACA accepted after September 5, 2017. Any applications already accepted by this date will be processed. The statement noted.
DHS clarified that current beneficiaries of DACA will not be impacted before March 5, 2018, so “Congress can have time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions.” DHS has also announced that it plans to continue to accept DACA renewal applications for any DACA beneficiary whose status expires between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, so long as these applications are accepted by October 5, 2017. Adding that “Any applications received after October 5 will be rejected”.
Furthermore, the statement pointed out that, “DACA recipients whose valid employment authorization document is lost, stolen or destroyed may still request a replacement through the normal process. However, DHS will no longer adjudicate advance parole request associated with DACA, any that are currently pending will be administratively closed and filing fees refunded.”
Meanwhile, immigration advocates, faith groups, labor unions and citizens across the Bay Area and throughout the United States are protesting against the decision and calling on Congress to act now to pass a legislation to save the DACA program. Similar efforts led by Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Orin Hatch (R) for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act failed. It remains to be seen if Congress can withstand the challenge now to pass a legislation since some conservatives lawmakers are voicing support for the DACA program. Currently, Senators Lindsay Graham (R) and Dick Durbin (D) are proposing a bipartisan help to resolve the impasse to save the Dreamers. But the clock is ticking. Congress must act within the next six months to pass a legislation otherwise. Till then “we will see” just to quote President Trump.