Immediate Impact of Terminating DACA

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NAFSA: Association of International Educators supports the Dream Act and urges Members of Congress to call for a vote on the Dream Act without any amendments or other immigration provisions. A clean Dream Act is the best way to ensure DACA recipients are protected and can continue to help America grow and prosper.

Understanding DACA

The DACA program has had a monumental impact on its recipients:

  • Approximately 800,000 individuals have received permission to live and work legally in the United States since the program began in August 2012. Each DACA grant remained valid for two years and could be renewed in two-year increments.
  • A request for deferred action on removal is available to immigrants other than those who are DACA eligible. Eligibility for work authorization and advance parole is tied to the existing regulatory authority governing the exercise of discretion to defer removal.
  • DACA has allowed many young people to attend college, obtain driver’s licenses, work, buy homes, and start businesses. For some college students, DACA meant they could study abroad. DACA recipients are ineligible for federal benefits like student loans.
  • Individual DACA students currently studying abroad or preparing to depart the United States with a grant of advance parole should be advised that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have discretion to deny reentry to the country even with a grant of advance parole.
  • Generally, DACA recipients do not have other options to maintain their immigration status unless Congress acts to pass legislation that protects them, such as the Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615, H.R. 3440).

Process for Ending DACA

The process for ending DACA is abrupt:

  • On September 5, 2017, DHS Acting Secretary Elaine C. Duke officially rescinded the June 15, 2012 memorandum that created the DACA program and set forth the following procedures for consideration of applications during the 6-month phase-out of the program.
    • DHS will no longer accept new DACA applications filed on or after September 6, 2017.
    • DHS will continue to process on a case-by-case basis any new DACA applications properly filed and received by USCIS on and before September 5, 2017.
    • There is a limited window of time for DACA recipients to file for renewals:
      • Those whose DACA permits expire on or before March 5, 2018, may apply for two-year DACA extensions if they apply for the extension on or before October 5, 2017.
      • Those whose DACA permits expire on and after March 6, 2018 will not be eligible to file DACA extension applications.
      • DHS will continue to adjudicate DACA extension applications that have been properly filed and received by USCIS on and before September 5, 2017, even if the current DACA approval of the applicant expires after March 5, 2018.

DACA Students and Study Abroad

Losing DACA threatens not only the opportunity for these young adults to attend college but also their chance to participate in the full curriculum on campuses that provide study abroad, international research, internship, or other international travel opportunities for their students. Prior to the September 5, 2017 rescission of DACA, DHS approved applications for travel authorization called advance parole, which DACAmented students could use to travel abroad for "education, humanitarian and work purposes,” including participating in study abroad programs. Although the DACA rescission memo states DHS will "generally honor" previously approved DACA advance parole for the stated validity period, USCIS will no longer approve new applications for advance parole after September 5, 2017. The memo makes clear that CBP officers at ports of entry retain the authority to determine the admissibility of anyone presenting themselves at a U.S. port of entry. A grant of advance parole, whether related to DACA or not, does not guarantee that CBP will allow the immigrant back into the country.

DACAmented students should seek the advice of an immigration attorney to weigh this risk before departing the United States to participate in a study abroad program. DACA students with an approved grant of advance parole who are currently studying abroad should also consult with their immigration lawyer about returning to the United States.

Solution

Pass the Dream Act (S.1615, H.R. 3440) without any additional amendments or immigration provisions to ensure DACA recipients can continue to live, work, and study and help America grow and prosper.

Contact

Heather Stewart, Counsel and Director of Immigration Policy, 202.737.3699 x2555, heathers@nafsa.org  

More Information

NAFSA immigration priorities and resources: nafsa.org/immigration