How the Rescission of DACA May Affect You and Your Family

On September 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke to terminate the DACA program after an “orderly and efficient wind-down process.”  This has left a great many people with a great many questions, so we’ve tried to answer some of them here. If you have more questions about deportation and removal proceedings, contact an experienced immigration lawyer today.

Why did Attorney General Sessions make this order?

According to a DHS press release as well as Attorney General Sessions’ letter, his office was under pressure from several states to rescind the DACA program because they believe the program was created unconstitutionally.  Because the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had found the DAPA program to be unconstitutional for reasons that could also apply to DACA, Attorney General Sessions concluded it would be better to repeal the DACA program through an orderly process rather than have the court terminate it immediately, without regard for the disruption to people’s lives.

However, Attorney General Sessions went further and concluded his letter by stating “Proper enforcement of our immigration laws is…critical to the national interest and to the restoration of the rule of law in our country.  The Department of Justice stands ready to assist and to continue to support DHS in these important efforts.”  This could indicate that the DOJ and DHS are planning further immigration enforcement actions in the future, such as workplace raids or more aggressive deportation policies.

What happens now?

The Department of Homeland Security is winding down the DACA program by providing a “limited window” during which it will still honor many of the provisions of the DACA program.  It is hoped that during this time Congress will take action to address many of the concerns created by DACA’s rescission.  In the meantime, here is how DHS will be handling several important issues:

  • Initial requests for DACA status and employment documents are no longer being accepted.  Requests that were filed before September 5 will still be considered.
  • Requests for renewal of DACA status and employment documents are also no longer being accepted, but requests that were received before October 5 will be considered.
  • Regardless of whether a renewal was requested or granted, DHS will not revoke DACA status that has already been granted before it is set to expire based solely on the DACA program being terminated (although they reserve the right to terminate DACA status for cause).
  • Applications for travel documents (Form I-131s) are no longer being accepted, and pending applications are being closed with fees refunded.  Previously approved applications will still be honored.

How can I protect myself and my family?

By rescinding the DACA program, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have placed the ball squarely back in Congress’ court.  Until Congress takes action, DACA recipients and their families will be left with uncertainty about their legal status when their current DACA protection expires.  You can certainly contact your member of Congress with your concerns, but you should also do everything you can to protect yourself under the existing laws.  The immigration and nationality lawyers at the NPZ law group in New York, New Jersey and Indiana also continue to assist foreign national clients with nonimmigrant work visa such as H-1B, L-1, O-1, etc. nonimmigrant work visas as well as with PERM labor certification cases and pre-certified permanent immigration to th