After three years of ongoing efforts by President Trump and his administration to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Supreme Court ruled on June 18 against such a move, upholding the protections the program gives to immigrants who arrived in the US during childhood.
In making their decision, the court ensured that undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US since childhood will not face deportation or have work permits revoked while enrolled in the program.
The DACA program was created by former President Obama in 2012 after Congress failed to pass legislation that would help reform the country’s immigration system. People who are enrolled in DACA, also known as Dreamers, arrived as children without documentation. Many of them reached adulthood living in the US, and DACA granted a temporary protected status that allows them to remain in the US and begin studying and working without the risk of deportation.
There are around 649,000 Dreamers currently enrolled in DACA. Their average age is 26, and the majority came from Latin America and Mexico. Although there are currently no direct pathways to citizenship offered through DACA, the House of Representatives passed initial legislation in 2019 which, if passed through the Senate, would provide a clearer route to obtaining citizenship for Dreamers who meet the criteria.
What are my current options under DACA?
For Dreamers who are enrolled in DACA now, it may still feel nerve-wracking to think about the future. On top of the fact that Trump has said he’ll continue to pursue the efforts to rescind the program, many DACA recipients still have questions about the paths available to them, especially since DACA does not provide amnesty or immunity, only temporary protected status.
Here’s what you need to know about your DACA enrollment:
- When and how can I re-enroll? Renewing your DACA enrollment can happen as soon as you’re able. There is no deadline on it, but it’s important to be mindful of appeals to prevent people from reapplying.
- What do I do if my status was revoked? If your DACA status was unlawfully revoked, contact an immigration attorney before you reapply to determine the best course of action.
- How can I obtain citizenship? Unfortunately, the options are currently very limited without legislation creating this path. The main routes include family sponsorship, work sponsorship, marriage to a US citizen, and advanced parole, meaning leaving the country for a specific reason and re-entering legally. However, none of these avenues are foolproof, and there are many laws that can create barriers.
US immigration law is extremely complicated and nuanced. For that reason, anyone making a decision for action, whether it’s renewing DACA, applying for a Green Card, or dealing with an unforeseen legal issue embedded in the law should work closely with an attorney, because an experienced advocate is necessary.