U.S. Law Center

DACA beneficiaries’ deadlines and Congress’ time to legislate

Many beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in California worry more than ever about their legal status in the United States. While most worried all along because they always lacked legal status, they enjoyed the unlegislated, protective but in-limbo nature of DACA.

Now DACA may be ending if Congress chooses not to legislate on the issue. While it is unclear what the future holds, there is reason to be hopeful, particularly if residents, both with and without legal status, demand action by Congress.

Multiple states plan to bring DACA issue to court

As reported by CNN, what prompted the government’s urgency to act on the DACA issue was a threat of lawsuit by 10 of the States of the United States against the federal government. They alleged the illegality of DACA based on multiple reasons. The States’ Attorneys General pointed out the position that DACA has been and is illegal, in part because it lacks legislative passing because Congress, the only legislative body for the United States, never chose to enact DACA.

Thus, the would-be State filers of the lawsuit noted that the court will overturn DACA once the issue is before it for the first time. As such, they urged, the government could avoid causing and unsuccessfully defending the lawsuit by simply rescinding DACA. The government, however, found a different, albeit temporary solution.

The compromise of six months and Congressional opportunity

CNN reported that President Trump, rather than rescind DACA by the September 5, 2017 deadline urged by the States, and noting that the government had no legal defense to prevent the overturning of DACA by the court, instead worked a compromise.

The Department of Homeland Security reports that details of the compromise that affect DACA recipients include the following:

  • Effective rescission experience six-month delay to allow Congress to enact
  • Congress receives six-month window to enact valid legislated protections to further extend protections after the six months
  • Current DACA affected persons retain their deferred action for the full extent of their documents, which can be up to two years, including employment authorization
  • Renewals for DACA permits continue for six months
  • All properly filed initial DACA requests pending as of September 5, 2017, receive acceptance for processing

Whether Congress will exercise its legal power to enact the necessary immigration legislation needed to extend the protections of DACA remains unknown. It has received a full six months to do so. DACA beneficiaries, although not legally able to vote, do have the right to contact the Congressional persons in their districts and even outside their districts, to urge them to expeditiously legislate in this very important area.

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