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DACA UPDATE: Supreme Court Denies Trump Request to Overturn Lower Court's Injunction!

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Several months ago, on September 5, 2017 to be exact, President Donald Trump decided to end an immigration policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or "DACA" for short. As a reminder, this program was established by former President Barack Obama, under which certain individuals who had entered the country illegally as minors were allowed to obtain a renewable 2 year period of deferred action from any deportation as well as the ability to acquire a work permit.

After Trump's decision, the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced the President's policy change and a 6-month phase out of DACA, setting March 5th as the deadline for the program. During this 6-month period, Congress was basically given time to either save DACA as is, to reform the immigration policy in some other way, or to not act at all and allow DACA to expire.

In response to this move by the White House, and as a way of doing my part to help ease the pain of Dreamers (participants of DACA) I announced a special offer to process DACA application renewals for free, regardless of whether you were a client of mine or not. Yes!  Free. Although there were a great number of those that partook of my offer, I think many others remained silent due to fear that the government would use these DACA renewals as a way of maintaining address information for later capture and removal efforts.

Although there have been some talk by legislators and the President regarding saving DACA since USCIS' announcement, nothing concrete has panned out yet because the two sides have been unable to come up with an acceptable agreement. However, there have been smaller-scaled developments on DACA; the most important being action that was taken a month ago by a federal judge in San Francisco. The judge, U.S. District Judge William Alsup, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on January 9, 2018, in effect, barring the Trump administration from ending DACA.

As a result of this injunction, USCIS announced that DACA would "...continue to be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017" (; USCIS). In essence what this means is that the DACA program continues and does not end on March 5th.

To overturn the lower court's ruling ASAP, Trump and his administration responded to this injunction by attempting to bypass the Court of Appeals and taking the case directly to the Supreme Court, However, just this past Monday (2/26/2018), the Supreme Court denied Trump's request to hear the lawsuit, citing the Court of Appeals procedural role in this matter.

Key Notes on Current Status of DACA

What does this all mean?  Some general takeaways regarding the current state of DACA:

1) The March 5th deadline set by Trump's administration and USCIS is null, void and meaningless at this point - there is no DACA deadline. 

2) Although the aforementioned injunction voids the March 5th deadline, it does not open up the DACA program to new applicants. Current DACA participants can stay in the program but USCIS is not accepting new requests from individuals wishing to join the program.

3) The Supreme Court decision to deny Trump is procedural in nature only and does not mean that DACA will survive because of the Court's decision or the injunction. Think of the injunction more as a time buyer, than a program saver. The Supreme Court only denied Trump's request to hear the DACA lawsuit because the case needs to go through the proper procedural channels; that is, the case must first be heard by the Court of Appeals before it reaches the Supreme Court. 

4) I estimate DACA should continue for at least another year: It should take time for the Court of Appeals to hear the case, and then if need be, for it to be ripe for the Supreme Court.

DACA is believed to have benefited hundreds of thousands of people. I personally know of many Mexican, Thai and other Asian "dreamers" that will be directly affected if DACA were to end, not to mention their families. To think that for many of these dreamers, the United States is the only country they really know. These innocent people might have been born in another country, but they were raised here in the United States. By ending DACA, these dreamers will no longer have protected status, meaning they can be deported. Under Trump, this is not just a possibility, but most likely a certainty.  What happens then?  They will be deported to a country, where in reality, they will be strangers, don't speak the language, don't have family, etc. For most, they know nothing of the country they were born in and only know America where they have lived for most of their lives. The fact is that America was built by Immigrants! Many of whom were also brought over here by their parents when they were just young children and babies. In the spirit of early America, we must support action that will provide continued immigration. Let's start with saving DACA.

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Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. All opinions expressed are those of the author and in no way shall be associated with Sereechai Newspaper. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.