On September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions canceled the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which protected from deportation people who were brought to the United States as undocumented minors. Sessions said that the program will be phased out over six months, allowing Congress to decide the fate of so-called “DREAMers.”
Anchorage immigration attorney Lea McDermid explains that “no new applications will be processed.” And she says that the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) will review DACA renewal applications on a case-by-case basis. For those whose DACA expires before March 5, 2018, renewal forms must be received by USCIS before October 5, 2017.
The DREAMers’ current work permits are valid until their expiration dates. DACA beneficiaries usually receive Social Security cards valid only with current work permits. So although those Social Security cards will not be revoked, DREAMers whose DACA has expired may face termination of their employment because they will no longer have a valid work authorization card.
On the possibility of traveling, McDermid recommends that DREAMers who already have an advance parole—a permit for a non-citizen traveling abroad without an immigrant visa to re-enter the US—consult with an immigration attorney before leaving the country. DREAMers who are abroad should return to the US as soon as possible. McDermid also says that “no new applications for advance parole will be adjudicated.”
Recently Alaska changed its rules so that drivers’ licenses are issued only until the expiration date of the holder’s immigration status. So once DREAMers’ DACA expires, they will be unable to obtain a new driver’s license.
Some DREAMers may try to follow another path to legal status. In these cases, McDermid suggests that they contact a lawyer as soon as possible. “I am hapy to do free consulations with anyone who has DACA to know what could come next,” she says.
What will the United States lose because of the President’s decision? According to McDermid, “we lose some of the integrity of our country. We are a nation of immigrants. Some of these young people have no memories of any other country. A possibility of having to go back to a country they do not even know is completely contrary to everything we believe as Americans.”