DACA UPDATE: What to expect once Trump takes office on January 20, 2017

Many immigrant workers and families are concerned about what will happen to the DACA program and to DACA recipients once President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, 2017. Trump said during his campaign that he intends to end the DACA program, but since the election, he has not yet said exactly how and when he might end the program. We will not know until after the new Trump administration takes power what his administration’s officials might do with the information that DACA applicants have submitted on their applications.

While there is no guarantee that the new administration will not use DACA recipients’ information for enforcement purposes, in the past, immigration authorities have generally not used information from immigration relief programs for enforcement purposes. Based on Trump’s recent statements regarding immigration enforcement, it appears unlikely that DHS will target DACA recipients and applicants in their enforcement efforts.

Efforts at a temporary fix

Currently, immigration reform groups and elected officials are working on measures to extend protections to DACA recipients and undocumented youth. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are leading a bipartisan effort working with immigration reform groups to draft a bill to provide protection to DACA recipients and undocumented young people who could be at risk of deportation. The bill would provide DACA recipients and undocumented youth a temporary stay until Congress passes a more expansive immigration bill addressing key issues.

In addition, immigration reform leaders in the House are also collecting signatures on a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order preventing information collected for DACA from being used for deportation or other enforcement purposes. Representatives Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) are leading the efforts to collect signatures and present the request to President Obama.

Deciding whether to apply for or renew DACA?

Anyone deciding whether to apply for or renew DACA must weigh the benefits and risks of applying. Generally, most immigrants’ rights groups recommend that at this time undocumented persons who do not currently have DACA should not apply for it for the first time. It is unlikely that an initial application would be processed before the new administration takes power, and immigration authorities currently do not have the information about the applicant that they would have to submit on their application.

On the other hand, most immigrants’ rights groups believe there are fewer risks for current DACA recipients to apply for renewal of DACA. Since immigration authorities already have the information from the DACA recipient’s previously submitted application, there is less risk in submitting a renewal application.

In addition, most immigrants’ rights groups recommend that DACA recipients who are on advance parole and out of the country return to the United States before January 20, 2017.

Please note that the information provided in this article is not legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. Persons who are considering whether to apply for DACA for the first time or apply to renew their DACA should speak with a qualified immigration attorney or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)–accredited representative.

As the policies of the new administration unfold, WRR is committed to providing legal updates and tools for labor leaders, workers and their families. 

By Alejandro Delgado | December 8, 2016

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