Tuesday, March 5, was the date that President Trump set for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to expire. DACA, however, did not expire. In fact, nothing happened in regards to DACA at all, and it remains on borrowed time.
Many Republicans, as well as Donald Trump himself, place blame on Democrats. “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military,” he tweeted in January.
We should not forget, however, that it was President Trump who created the situation that DACA is now in, by overturning DACA and setting the March 5 deadline for DACA to expire. The follow-up by Congress has been inaction, due to a large split on how to proceed. Many Republicans refuse to address the DACA issue separately from the issue of a border wall.
Temporary Reprieve, but Time is Running Out
For the immediate future, most DACA recipients (often referred to as DREAMers), have a temporary reprieve. Following Trump’s shutdown of DACA, Judge William Alsup, a Federal judge in California, ruled that the Trump administration had used a flawed legal argument to do so. Alsup ordered the Department of Homeland Security to restart DACA, and to continue to process DACA renewals for program recipients.
The Trump Administration appealed the ruling, going directly to the Supreme Court instead of following the normal protocol of appealing to the Circuit Court of Appeals in California. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, advising the Department of Justice to follow the regular process of appeals.
DACA Remains in Place, but DREAMers Still at Risk
The Supreme Court ruling keeps DACA in place for at least six more months. For most of the nearly 700,000 DREAMers, this means that their DACA protections remain for now. Still, with lawmakers taking additional time to agree on a permanent solution, all DREAMers are in a perilous limbo.
At least 10,000 DACA recipients have filed for renewals of their status. As a result of the stop and restart of DACA, however, Washington has a considerable backlog of renewal applications to process. Some DREAMers’ status has expired as they await processing, and this means that, even though they’ve followed the rules, they’re currently without their deportation protections.
The fact that DACA recipients have adhered to protocol may not matter to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. This week in northern California, agents rounded up 232 people in an ICE raid. And ICE is not just pursuing undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions; it is also going after innocent undocumented immigrants, even if they’re DREAMers.
With other issues now figuring more significantly in the 2018 midterm elections, Congress will likely put off dealing with DACA again. This means that eventually, DREAMers, many of whom have chosen professions such as teaching, or who have volunteered to serve in the American armed forces, will lose their status and ability to work legally in the U.S. – and the freedom and ability granted by DACA to be valuable, legitimate contributors to the society that has formed the only place they know as “home.”
With DACA Protections Still in Place, Recipients in Limbo | PBS News Hour [2018-03-03]
White House on Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear DACA Appeal | Fox News [2018-02-26]