Understanding DACA's End

This morning, at around 10:00 a.m. CST Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that DACA was rescinded.  Unfortunate is not a strong enough word to describe the feelings and thoughts associated with this announcement.  Less professional adjectives still do not do this justice.  For hundreds of thousands of young adults and children, even the tenuous shot at stability DACA once offered is now part of the past as we enter a new reality.

Jeff Sessions announces the end of DACA

The benefits of DACA are well-documented despite the controversy generated by the program. Others have done a far better job of providing analysis of those benefits than can be provided here, but those benefits should be noted.  It should also be recognized that many of the reasons Sessions gave for rescinding the program have absolutely no basis in fact: (1) the likelihood of a court overturning the program - the 5th Circuit has already dismissed lawsuits against DACA; (2) the constitutionality of DACA - highly debatable; (3) protecting American workers - credible studies show increased immigration helps American workers; and (4) following the rule of law - the rule of law requires reasonable laws as a threshold matter.  Other excuses were just plain racist or based on horrible anti-immigrant arguments in circulation since the 1840s and the "Know-Nothing Party."

Perhaps most insulting was Sessions' attempt to extol the benefits of the Raise Act, a horrible piece of legislation irrationally focused on limiting immigration from the non-English speaking world. Sessions is the AG, not a senator, and should not be pushing legislation in the first place, much less so while revoking status for 800,000 contributing members of society.  But I digress...

What is most important about today's announcement is that it is understood for what it actually is. For the first 30 minutes or so after Mr. Sessions spoke, that was somewhat unclear.  His announcement was woefully lacking in detail and he refused questions at the end.  Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a memo shortly after which clarifies some of the finer points.  These include:

  • No one lost status today.  Instead, it appears DACA will be phased out.  However, as of today no initial (new) applications for DACA will be accepted;
  • DACA applications received prior to today will be accepted and adjudicated on a case-by-case basis;
  • The key dates are October 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 - Anyone with DACA whose status expires on March 5th or before can renew their DACA another 2 years as long as they apply to renew no later than October 5, 2017;
  • Individuals whose DACA expires after March 5, 2018 are not eligible for renewal, in other words, March 6th is the date individuals will begin to lose DACA
  • Advance parole (travel permits) are no longer being considered effective immediately - all pending applications will be closed and the filing fee reimbursed while new applications will be rejected
    • Current travel permits are still valid, but special note is made that the border patrol has discretion to deny entry

In other words, people should not start to really lose DACA en mass until after March 5, 2018.  If you have DACA and it expires before March 5, 2018, you need to renew it before October 5, 2017.  If you have a travel permit, it is advisable not to travel.  If you do not have a travel permit, but your DACA is valid for some time still, you cannot request one.

Great points about today's announcement

Of course, all of this may not even end up happening if, and it's a big if, Congress takes action to codify DACA or otherwise pass some form of legislation granting benefits to DACA recipients. Based on the last 20 years of our history, it probably is not best to hold our collective breath on this option though.

This was a stupid announcement. The overwhelming majority of people support DACA and the optics of this are not good for the Trump administration.  It was a cruel announcement from an increasingly cruel administration.

Nevertheless, this is the reality we are left with. Stay informed, apply your rights, and persevere.


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