A federal court judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unconstitutional, putting it and every immigrant that has benefitted from it into jeopardy. The ruling, issued on Friday, July 16, may potentially impact thousands of people who would otherwise have been eligible for DACA protection. However, it is not necessarily over yet for DACA, as the decision may yet be appealed.
What is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was originally created by President Barack Obama in 2012 as a way of protecting people who immigrated to the United States without appropriate documentation. Anyone covered by the program can live legally in the United States, and also may receive work authorization to make a legal income. Although DACA status technically only lasts for two years, it can be renewed to extend the time covered.
What Was This Decision About?
The lawsuit that resulted in this decision was originally filed in 2018 by then-Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, along with attorneys general from eight other states. The lawsuit contested the legal authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create the DACA program, which it said prevented federal agents from enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act. The judge in the case, a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of Texas, agreed with the plaintiffs in the suit, declaring that the executive order that established DACA was unconstitutional.
What Does This Mean For DACA Recipients?
While the judge did strike down the program, he permitted current recipients to continue to benefit from DACA protections, and to renew their existing status. This means they do not need to worry about being deported, or worry about losing their work authorization. They may also apply to have their DACA status renewed as before. However, no new applicants will be able to seek DACA protection, and many underage undocumented immigrants may now find themselves with a much more difficult path to achieve legal status.
What Should You Do If You Are a DACA Recipient?
Current DACA recipients do not need to do anything other than continue to keep up with the requirements of the program. This means staying out of trouble with law enforcement, remaining within the United States, and maintaining the documentation necessary to keep DACA status. However, if you believe your current immigration status may be in danger, you should speak to an immigration law attorney who can advise you on your best course of action.
For more than forty years, the Drucker Law Firm has been providing personal and quality legal services to individuals, universities, and corporations throughout the New York City and Tri-State area. We have represented three generations of clients in immigration and nationality matters, as well as personal injury, family law, criminal law, and general litigation matters. If you have a legal issue related to immigration law, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 to schedule a consultation or visit our contact page.