Navigating DACA: Recent Updates and What They Mean for Dreamers

Having no legal status in the United States is a challenge for young undocumented immigrants. A young woman in Gardnerville, Nevada, was forced to use a fake name and told not to disclose where she was born or her past when trying to avoid deportation. Using the word “undocumented” was something she could not do if she wanted to remain in the United States. Joining the DACA program changed her life and allowed her to stop hiding and live her life to the fullest. 

Introduction to DACA

President Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 under the Administrative Procedure Act. As the Department of Homeland Security Secretary at the time, Janet Napolitano signed the president’s memorandum to create the program. The Act created a safety net for undocumented minors so they could remain in the United States and receive benefits without fear of deportation.

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Latest Information on the Status of DACA

United States District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas ruled that the DACA program was unlawful on September 13, 2023. Although his ruling has no immediate effect on DACA recipients, as the program has not been accepting new applicants since a 2021 ruling by that same judge, it’s a sobering, if not unexpected, decision. 

Eight additional states joined in the lawsuit held in the Texas court. The decision is expected to be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. If that happens, this will be the third time SCOTUS will have the opportunity to rule on DACA’s status.

What the Ruling Means for Others with DACA Protection

The September ruling does not affect those already participating in DACA; they are still protected from deportation. It also does not affect those whose DACA expired less than a year ago. Current DACA recipients can renew their coverage and obtain work permits. They can also obtain a Social Security card and might qualify for other benefits.This Is the Second Time Daca Has Been Addressed by Judge Hanen On July 26, 2021, Judge Hanen declared DACA unlawful. Despite the ruling, individuals with DACA could still renew their protection under the existing law. However, because of that ruling, new applications for DACA were put on hold as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCSIS) were not allowed to process them. This ruling had significant consequences for those dependent on DACA to legally remain in the United States. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the case in 2022. Their decision upheld Judge Hanen’s ruling that declared DACA to be illegal. Still, they sent the case back to him so he could also take into consideration changes the Biden administration made to the program. 

Applying for the DACA Program

Even though USCIS is not currently processing new DACA applications, the cases ruling the program unconstitutional are still on appeal. You can complete a DACA Application and submit it to reserve your place in line in the event the law changes. 

Those born June 6, 1981, or after can apply for DACA if they arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday. They must have continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, and must have been physically and illegally in the U.S. on that date. There are other qualifications to be met, as well. 

A person applies by submitting Form I-821D, Form I-765, and Form I-765WS to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. They must also submit passport photos and pay a $495.00 fee.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for DACA

One pitfall is incorrectly filling out part four of the I-821D form, which is the prior arrest question. This section asks the applicant if they were ever charged, arrested, or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Some applicants believe that if the charge was dropped, they don’t have to say yes on the form. If you have questions about answering this form section, consulting an immigration lawyer is a good idea. 

Benefits for Immigrants Under DACA

In addition to allowing young people to stay in the United States, many of whom have lived their entire lives here, DACA offers many benefits for undocumented students. In addition to giving them a possible path to permanent residency, it allows them to obtain a driver’s license and work. They may obtain a Social Security card, which means they may obtain mortgages, loans, and credit cards. They may travel outside the country without having their reentry barred if they obtain an Advance Parole travel document. Those in the DACA program may attend college in some states and obtain scholarships and in-state tuition rates. 

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Ongoing Legal Challenges to DACA

Because of the 2023 ruling, the issue of DACA’s legality will probably go back to the Appeals Court in 2024, which might contradict Judge Hanen’s decision. This means the issue will probably be decided in the Supreme Court sometime in the future.

How Pending Legislation May Affect Dreamers

Currently, DACA is in limbo for applicants who applied after the court ruling. They will not have their applications processed at this time. However, the Dream Act (S. 365) was introduced on February 29, 2023, in the U.S. Senate. If the Act is adopted as law, it would allow Dreamers to have permanent protection. The bill would allow them to meet work or education requirements to earn lawful permanent residence. 

How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help

For young people with no documentation who come to the United States without identification, it is important to stay informed about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) developments. In DACA, young people who come to the country as children are delayed from being deported. You will not automatically receive protection under DACA. This program must be applied for, and if your application is accepted, your status must be renewed before it expires. Las Vegas, Nevada, immigration lawyers can assist those seeking DACA protection or applying for renewal.

Get Legal Help Today

The lawyers at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration are experienced in helping young undocumented immigrants join the DACA program. There should be no need for anyone to face an uncertain future when help is available. We are happy to provide a free consultation to determine your eligibility for DACA. Call us today. Let’s talk about your next steps.