Termination of DACA

On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced the President's plan to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program. Originally introduced in 2012, DACA provided relief from deportation and the ability to apply for work authorization for as many as 800,000 individuals who arrived in the U.S. before 2007, were children (under age 16) at the time they arrived, were 30 years or younger when the policy was enacted in 2012, and did not have criminal records. The President's order terminating DACA stated that, effective immediately, USCIS would no longer accept initial requests for DACA and would no longer approve advance parole (travel authorization) requests associated with DACA. The President directed USCIS to only accept DACA renewal requests and EAD requests until October 5, 2017, and only for individuals whose DACA benefits expire on or before March 5, 2018.

Accordingly, DACA beneficiaries with upcoming expirations have been scrambling to file their extension requests, a process that has been particularly onerous for DACA recipients in Florida and Texas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Although the Dream Act legislation has been introduced to protect these DACA recipients on a more permanent basis, to date Congress has not brought these bills up for debate or vote. We will continue to bring updates on DACA and any Dream Act legislation in our newsletters.

The latest news on DACA and Dreamers

On July 21, 2017, a bipartisan Senate bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois (S. 1615) introduced the Dream Act of 2017.  The measure would allow recipients of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, commonly known as the "Dreamers" to obtain green cards and a path to citizenship, if certain criteria are met.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, along with 19 other Democratic attorneys general, have joined together to urge President Donald Trump to keep the under-threat DACA program. In a letter to the president, the attorneys general said the 800,000 recipients of the DACA program have been an economic boom to universities and employers.

On the other side of the DACA debate, Texas and nine other states have sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that DACA be phased out and that DHS rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and not renew or issue any new DACA or expanded DACA permits in the future.  If not, the letter indicates that the states will amend their litigation pending in the Southern District of Texas to challenge the DACA program.  The current administration has yet to provide any specific details about its plans for keeping or terminating DACA.

The future of DREAMers- Congressional Action and 14 Mayors urge President-Elect Trump to protect DACA

Unauthorized immigrants covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) face an uncertain future under the new Trump administration.  According to USCIS, more than 750,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and deportation relief through DACA since it was created by President Obama's executive action in August 2012. On December 7, 2016, fourteen mayors joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in sending President-elect Trump a letter urging him to continue the DACA program, which protects DREAMers and grows the economy, at least until Congress modernizes America's immigration system. In addition, on January 12, 2017 a bipartisan group of senators led by Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reintroduced the "Bar Removal of Immigrants who Dream and Grow the Economy" or BRIDGE Act, to provide DACA-eligible individuals the chance to apply for "provisional protected presence" and employment authorization. A companion bill was introduced in the House the following day.

We will continue to bring you updates on our website and newsletter on any changes with DACA. In addition, Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C. has been hosting "Know Your Rights Seminars" across the Boston metro-area. If you wish to host a similar seminar at your institution, please contact us at info@iandoli.com with "Know Your Rights" in the subject line.

Supreme Court ruling on DACA does not impact current DACA recipients

On June 23, 2016, the U.S Supreme Court issued a 4-4 split decision upholding the injunction against implementation of President Obama's actions to provide safe haven and work authorization to thousands under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents ("DAPA") program and to extend eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") to additional thousands who are currently without any form of legal status. It is important to note that although the President's expanded DACA program will not be expanded at this time, the Supreme Court's decision does not affect anyone who is currently enrolled in DACA. Individuals who meet the 2012 DACA guidelines may continue to come forward and file an initial or renewal request for DACA under those guidelines. For more information, visit the USCIS DACA website.

U.S. v Texas

On June 23, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the closely-watched case of U.S. v. Texas. The Court's opinion totaled only nine words: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court." The court's 4-4 ruling demonstrates the significance of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the Senate's inaction on confirming Merrick Garland, President Obama's nomination to Supreme Court.

U.S. v. Texas was the culmination of an injunction granted to the State of Texas (joined by seventeen other states in their lawsuit) over President Obama's proposed Executive Actions on Immigration, originally announced in November 2014. The President's Actions included the expansion of the existing program for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") and the addition of a new program for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans ("DAPA"). These programs sought to assist individuals brought to the U.S. as children who are without status in the U.S. and the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are without status. Under both programs, the eligible individuals would be permitted to remain in the U.S. and work without fear of deportation.

On February 16, 2015, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction to prevent implementation of these two programs (expanded DACA and DAPA), a decision the Obama administration appealed. On November 9, 2015, in a 2 - 1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the District Court's decision, halting President Obama's expanded DACA and DAPA programs. The Obama administration appealed and in April 2016 argued its case before the U.S. Supreme Court. With its divided decision last month, the Supreme Court's decision leaves the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in place, effectively blocking the President's Executive Actions for now. U.S. v. Texas, like other equally divided Supreme Court decisions, does not set precedent and thus is not a binding decision on any future cases concerning Executive Authority or immigration.  A full copy of the Supreme Court's opinion, along with briefs filed with the Court, can be found on the court's website.

Justice Antonin Scalia's passing and what it means for President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration

The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016 impacts one of the most high-profile cases before the Court this year: whether President Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration overstepped the bounds of his authority. In November 2014, President Obama announced a bold series of Executive Actions, including expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") and a newly created Deferred Action for Parents of Americans ("DAPA"). His executive actions sought to expand the existing DACA program to include more individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children and who presently do not have status in the U.S., and to create a new program to allow parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to remain in the U.S. and work without fear of deportation.

Shortly after President Obama announced his Executive Actions, seventeen states (with Texas as lead plaintiff) filed lawsuits claiming the President's proposed actions exceeded his authority. On February 16, 2015, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction to prevent implementation of these two programs (expanded DACA and DAPA), a decision the Obama administration appealed. On November 9, 2015, in a 2 - 1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the District Court's decision, halting President Obama's expanded DACA and DAPA programs. On January 19, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review in the case, known as United States v. Texas, with formal hearings set for April of this year. 

With eight justices presently serving on the Supreme Court, a 4-4 tie in the case is possible. A tie among the justices in United States v. Texas would preserve the lower court's decision, effectively placing a permanent injunction on the program. However, most legal experts agree there is clear precedence that permits a President to take executive actions related to immigration. Accordingly, immigration advocates are calling on the Supreme Court to continue hearing the case this April. We will continue to bring you news related to the hearings on United States v. Texas and any other DACA and DAPA related news on our website at www.iandoli.com/newsandupdates

Obama's executive action on immigration headed to the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on January 19, 2016 it will hear arguments related to Texas v. U.S., the lawsuit challenging President Obama's executive action on immigration.  On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced a number of actions and priorities, including expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") and the creation of a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents ("DAPA") that would allow parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, provided they have lived in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010 and pass required background checks.
Seventeen states (with Texas as lead plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in December 2014 alleging the President's proposed executive actions, including the expansion of DACA and the creation of DAPA, exceed his authority.  The case has moved through the federal district court to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and now is headed to the Supreme Court.  Stay tuned for updates from Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C. in the coming months on this page: www.iandoli.com/newsandupdates.