On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration made a shameful decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while giving Congress a six-month delay to come up with a legislative solution. *EDIT: On January 9th 2018, a federal court ruled that while a lawsuit decides whether the termination of DACA was unlawful, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must continue to accept renewal applications! Click here for resources.
This irresponsible decision put nearly 800,000 young people, including up to 40,000 San Diegans, at risk in a political tug-of-war. Since the inception of the DACA program, Alliance San Diego has stood in solidarity with Dreamers and during this time of turmoil, we will continue to stand with our brothers and sisters. We urge those affected to stay calm and lean on us to provide you with the latest information on your next steps. Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions people are asking us around the end of DACA.
What did this announcement mean?
President Trump is ending DACA program, and he has announced a wind-down. Under the wind-down process, USCIS was not going to accept any new initial DACA applications, however due to a recent federal court ruling on January 9th 2018, USCIS must continue to accept DACA renewals. All DACA recipients who are currently in status may continue to use their work permits until the expiration date on the employment authorization card, or renew before expiration while the lawsuit progresses.
This announcement also means that it is time for our community to advocate for a more permanent legislative fix for our DREAMer brothers and sisters by convincing Congress to pass a DREAM Act.
What should I do now?
- Stay calm and do not panic. Although news of the end of the program may sound final, it is not. In fact, due to a recent federal court ruling, USCIS must continue to accept DACA renewals while the lawsuit progresses.
- Do not make any drastic life changes based on the announcement. You belong here. Keep going to work or school. You are an important part of our community and lots of people will be fighting alongside you to keep you here.
- Consult with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney. You may have immigration relief, aside from DACA, for which you can apply. We are offering FREE consultations with experienced, local immigration attorneys. Come out to one of our free consultation events to find out what you might be eligible for. You can also bring your individual questions about DACA and how these new changes may impact you, and an attorney will provide you with one-on-one advice.
- Fourth, remember that no matter your immigration status, you have rights under the Constitution of the United States! If you are approached or detained by an immigration officer, you have the right to remain silent. The only information you are obligated to give a law enforcement officer is your true name. You do not have to sign any documents presented to you by an officer. NEVER sign any documents you don’t understand. NEVER lie about your immigration status. You do not need to consent to a search of your body, car, or home. So know your rights
- If you're in the middle of an immigration process at the moment, try to keep copies of receipts from USCIS on your person/in your car. Keep documentation that proves you've lived in the US.
What will happen to my current DACA permit?
You will be able to use your current DACA permit until it expires. You may be eligible to renew your DACA because of a recent federal court ruling which requires USCIS to continue accepting renewals while the lawsuit progresses. You can find more information on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services DACA page.
Will I be detained or deported?
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that it is not actively looking to detain and deport people just because they have DACA. It is extremely unlikely that DHS will use the information submitted in your DACA forms to find and arrest you. There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide, and DHS does not have the capacity to search for, detain, and deport everyone.
However, if you have an outstanding order of deportation (i.e., if you have been deported in the past or have been ordered deported by an Immigration Judge), or a criminal record, you are at a higher risk of being apprehended. Speak with an experienced and trusted immigration attorney as soon as possible about your legal options.
If you have never been deported or ordered deported by a judge and you do have an encounter with ICE or Border Patrol, remember that you have the right to fight your case before an Immigration Judge. NEVER sign for a “voluntary return,” no matter what DHS officers tell you. If you sign papers indicating that you agree to be sent to your country of origin, you will lose your ability to fight your case. If you or a family member are detained, contact a qualified immigration attorney. You can find legal assistance here.
Can I apply for other immigration benefits?
Maybe. Approximately 20% of DACA recipients are also eligible for other forms of immigration relief. You may be one of the 20%! You can apply for several forms of relief at the same time, if you are eligible for each program. We encourage you to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney as soon as possible to find out if you might qualify for another immigration program. Find out about our upcoming FREE legal screening programs at http://readynowsandiego.org/immigrationevents/.
Who can I talk to for more information?
Please consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you have any questions or doubts. Although “notarios” (“immigration service” providers) may claim to have good advice for you, they are not licensed or qualified to give legal advice. This is a confusing time and you may hear a lot of conflicting information on the Internet or from community members. Come straight to the source and speak with an attorney about your concerns and questions! Find out about our upcoming FREE attorney consultations at http://readynowsandiego.org/immigrationevents/.