DACA; Under Attack

*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a policy that was created under President Obama`s administration in 2012 as an executive order after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act) failed to pass through Congress several times. This policy applies to undocumented American residents who came to the country as children and have grown up here, and who also meet other criteria that includes age limits and exclusions based on criminal records. For those eligible to be a Dreamer, the policy allowed them to request deferment of removal actions against them for a period of two years before it would need to be renewed.

DACA protects them from removal and also authorizes them to do other things, such as work, get a driver's license, apply for financial aid and attend college, even though they have not been granted legal status or all the rights guaranteed to citizens. Prior to DACA, these folks were seriously limited in their ability to have certain jobs or pursue certain areas of study, because their undocumented status made it illegal to do so. They were essentially relegated to a second class status, when they had been brought to this country through no illegal action of their own part and with family who sought a better life for them. This policy gave a lot of hope and more opportunity to many who grew up here and know no other home, and consider themselves American in all but citizenship status.

Despite the positive reception and impact this initially had, DACA has come under attack from the Trump administration. This attack is more disturbing when you consider the trust that Dreamers had to place in the American government when they initially registered themselves for deferred action. It was a huge mark of trust for them to allow the government to officially record their undocumented status, and the exchange was supposed to be for their protection. But Dreamers now face even more uncertainty as the Trump administration attempts to dismantle this policy, which would strip these Dreamers of all the protections and leave them more vulnerable to deportation than if they had never registered in the first place.

So how exactly has the DACA program come under fire under Republican leadership? Right at the beginning of his term in office in 2017 DACA faced rescission from an Executive Order. However, this initial attempt was swiftly met with legal backlash in lower federal courts, wherein three separate judges and cases ruled against the legality and legitimacy of Trump`s rescission. Several courts ruled against terminating DACA, as well as ruled to continue allowing previous DACA recipients to renew their deferment.

In more recent months, there have been some major legal successes in continuing to challenge the Trump Administration's attempts to phase out the policy. In June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of DACA recipients when more than 100,000 recipients and Texans were faced with the threat of deportation upon it being rescinded. After the Supreme Court blocked the elimination of DACA, a federal court judge from Maryland issued an order to the Trump administration to begin accepting new DACA applications again.

Yet despite the courts establishing a precedent to protect Dreamers, the current administration continues to chip away at the program however possible. Less than two weeks after the Maryland judge issue the order to accept new applicants, the Trump administration released a memo to announce it would be changing the DACA program such that they would still no longer accept new applications and also that recipients would be required to renew their protections on a yearly basis, which is a costly and time intensive process. Even in this memo and after the rulings of multiple courts, the memo still indicated future plans to rescind the program entirely. These continued threats to the program highlight the need for permanent legislative fixes and assurances for these Dreamers.

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