As expected, Federal Court Judge Andrew Hanen recently ruled that DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program begun by President Obama violates the U.S. Constitution. With appeals expected, including consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, Hanen’s ruling allows those who already have DACA to remain in that status and apply for renewals.
DACA prevents deportations of some immigrants brought to the United States as children. DACA holders can work in the United States and travel abroad with USCIS permission. The Biden administration put in place a new regulation that it hoped would cure problems with the Obama plan, but Hanen nevertheless found the DACA program unlawful.
Here’s what you need to know about the court decision.
Q. I have DACA. Can I continue to work and live here safe from deportation?
A. Yes. DACA holders can remain in that status and get two-year renewals.
Q. What happens to pending new DACA requests?
A. If you never had DACA, and you apply now (or you applied before the court decision but you have yet to get your application approved), USCIS will hold your application pending an appeal of Judge Hanen’s decision.
Q. My first time DACA application is pending. Will Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest me?
A. No. ICE will not be arresting undocumented youth simply because they applied for DACA. Unless you have a serious criminal record, ICE should leave you alone. That’s true though USCIS has your address.
Q. If I have DACA, can I travel abroad with USCIS permission?
A. Yes. You remain eligible to receive a travel permit, called “advance parole.” With this permit, traveling abroad is safe. Of course, you must return before your permit expires.
Q. What’s next for DACA?
A. It will be months, perhaps a few years before the federal courts make a final decision on the lawfulness of DACA. Many had hoped that Congress would pass legislation that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for DACA holders and other undocumented immigrants, but that’s unlikely until at least 2025.
Q. I have DACA. How can I get permanent residence?
A. DACA holders have no clear path to permanent residence. For most, only marriage to a U.S. citizen provides a way to get permanent legal status.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and Senior Legal Advisor to City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Email questions and comments to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @awernick