Recognizing the need for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus their time and energy on true threats to national security, as opposed to low-priority individuals who were simply brought to the US illegally as children, the Obama administration has made several attempts to institute a number policies regarding certain groups of innocuous undocumented immigrants. One of these policies is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). However, only some of these attempts have been successfully implemented as of the writing of this blog. While the original DACA program, which was established in June 2012, is still available to those who qualify, an attempt to expand DACA in 2014 has been met with legal resistance and is currently suspended. As we discussed in a recent blog, the 2012 DACA program can qualify certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children for deferred action on their removal from the country if they fulfil certain eligibility criteria. To learn more about the criteria for DACA consideration as it is currently accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), take a look at our previous blog on the subject [LINK to https://www.landerholmimmigration.com/blog/2016/july/what-is-deferred-action-for-certain-childhood-ar/ ] . In November 2014, the Obama administration sought to expand on the eligibility criteria for DACA, as well as instituting Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). With regard to the 2014 DACA expansion, the new criteria would have eliminated the age limit (currently set at 31 years old) as well as changing the arrival date requirement. The 2012 DACA program requires applicants to have arrived in the US prior to June 21, 2007, while the 2014 expanded version changes that date to January 1, 2010. DAPA would have also expanded deferred action to certain undocumented immigrant parents of US citizens and green card holders. To be eligible for DAPA, aside from the aforementioned parental requirement, individuals must have:
- Continuously lived in the US since January 1, 2010
- Been present in the US since June 15, 2012 and every day since August 15, 2012
- Graduated from high school; OR received a certificate of completion or GED from a high school; OR currently be in school at the time of their application
- Not been convicted of certain criminal offenses
Most estimates place the total number of those potentially eligible for expanded DACA and DAPA at over 4 million. But to reiterate, these programs are unfortunately NOT currently available due to the fact that 26 states sued in Federal court to block the expansion. In 2015, a lower court ruled that the president’s executive orders to expand DACA and institute the DAPA program were unconstitutional. In recent months, the case worked its way up to the US Supreme Court, which was operating with only 8 justices due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of this year. The justices tied 4-4 in their ruling, meaning the lower court’s decision against expanded DACA and DAPA was upheld. While the possibility remains that the case could return to the Supreme Court once it is fully staffed again, the 2014 DACA update and the DAPA program are both suspended for the foreseeable future. But keep in mind, this ruling does not impact the original 2012 DACA program, and USCIS is still accepting applications under the original eligibility criteria. If you believe you may be eligible for 2012 DACA relief, please do not hesitate to contact Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. right away to learn how we can help!