By: Perry & Alznauer, P.C.
Many children who came to America and lived here since at least 2007 and met other requirements, are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is a temporary protection from deportation, and recipients are given work authorization for a renewable period of two years. Recipients are also able to acquire driver’s licenses. The Migration Policy Institute reports that there are approximately 800,000 who have received the benefit at least once since the program started in 2012.
President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he was ending the DACA program, but courts managed to help those who currently hold DACA permits to keep their status. This coming June, and after a series of court disputes, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the if the Trump Administration’s termination of the DACA program was constitutional.
DACA recipients are currently filling essential roles during the pandemic, most notably in the health care and research fields — including nurses, technicians, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, dentists, and others. According to the Center for American Progress there are about 202,000 DACA recipients who currently hold positions in industries that are considered “essential critical infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The number of Corona Virus cases have risen in the last few weeks even with strict lockdown measures across the country. The burden on hospitals and other healthcare facilities are increasing by the day, DACA recipients are really making a huge contribution to their respective communities while risking their lives for the sake of saving precious American lives and the impending Supreme Court ruling is even adding more to their stress.
There is no clear plan by the present administration whether they will at least extend work authorizations of DACA recipients whose permits are set to expire in 2020. The USCIS stopped accepting new applications for DACA or for advance parole travel permits but some recipients can still renew their permits.
There are a variety of other immigration benefits for which DACA recipients may qualify that are more permanent in nature than DACA, including: adjustment of status, U and T visas, asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, and others. As the Supreme Court ruling approaches, we encourage DACA recipients to have his or her case evaluated by a qualified and experienced immigration attorney. With DACA’s future this uncertain, it is important to act now.