End of DACA puts at risk up to 6,000 young Filipino recipients
There are approximately 22,000 young Filipino immigrants who are eligible to apply for benefits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Only 27 percent of those eligible applied, or approximately 6,000. The rest of these young Filipino immigrants continue to wait for permanent solution to their status. With the announcement that President Donald Trump is ending the DACA program will those who took advantage of the DACA program be arrested and eventually be deported?
Unfortunately, those who are just in the process of filing their DACA applications for the first time, will no longer be able to do so. This will affect those who just became eligible to apply for DACA and those who took time or postponed the filing of their DACA applications despite the fact that they were eligible. After September 5, 2017, USCIS will no longer accept new DACA applications.
Future of DACA recipients
There is a short window afforded to existing DACA recipients to renew their expiring DACA employment authorization documents (EAD) if these EADs are expiring between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. The request for renewal and application for employment authorization document must be received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services no later than October 5, 2017. This is an important deadline because USCIS will reject all requests to renew ACA and associated applications for EADs filed after October 5, 2017.
Once the application for renewal is adjudicated, USCIS is expected to renew it for another two year period or until 2019. Unfortunately, for those whose DACA benefits are expiring after March 5, 2018, once their employment authorization document expires, USCIS will no longer be able to accept and adjudicate their applications for renewal. This means that beginning March 6, 2018, there will be DACA recipients who will be deprived of their protected status and will be reverted to their unlawful status.
Will DACA recipients be deported?
It was clearly mentioned during the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the DACA recipients are not considered priority for enforcement. While this may sound favorable, there is no guarantee that ICE will not issue Notices to Appear for removal hearings. The USCIS confirmed that it will not share information obtained through DACA applications with the ICE agents. However, it is important to note that unless ICE is requesting that information based on certain factors like national security, public safety and fraud, the information may still be shared for enforcement. It will still be best for this DACA recipients to be vigilant about their situation and to be familiar with their rights especially their rights to a hearing and their right to counsel.
Terminating the DACA program within 6 months will afford the U.S. Congress time to enact a law benefitting the DACA recipients. At present there are two bills pending, the Dream Act (S.1615) before the Senate and the American Hope Act (H.R.3591) before the House of Representatives.
If these bills are passed into law, it will provide permanent solutions to protect DACA recipients and give them a pathway to lawful status. These young immigrants will have to take steps to ensure that they are safe from removal.
We also encourage compassionate members of our community, who believe that DACA recipients deserve a chance to build their lives in the country they call home, to work together towards the passage of the Dream Act by contacting their representatives in Congress.
(Atty. Lourdes S. Tancinco is a San Francisco based immigration lawyer and immigrant’s right advocate. She may be reached at [email protected], facebook.com/tancincolaw, www.tancinco.com or 1 888 930 0808)