In a 5-4 decision issued June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Trump Administration’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which currently protects approximately 800,000 immigrants from deportation, was improper.

In short, DACA is a program created by a 2012 Obama administration memorandum to provide relief to children brought unlawfully to the United States. The program recognizes the children did not play a role in their unlawful entry – that the decision to enter was made by their parent(s) or guardian(s).

DACA benefits those born after June 15, 1981, who (i) came to the United States before their 16th birthday, (ii) have been in the United States since June 27, 2007, (iii) are in school, have graduated high school (GED) or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military, and (iv) pass a background check. Under DACA, eligible participants may apply for work authorization and receive deferrals on removal from the United States. DACA approvals are generally issued in two-year increments.

In September 2017, the Trump administration sought to discontinue DACA by closing the program to new DACA applicants and eliminating the renewal process, effectively ending the DACA program when the then-existing approvals ran out. This decision was met with multiple legal challenges and the DACA program continued to operate while the court cases worked their way through the appellate process.

In last week’s Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, stated that the government failed to provide an adequate reason to justify ending the DACA program. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the government must continue the DACA program.

Though the ruling provides critical relief to an important segment of our population, the ruling does not bar the Trump administration or any future administration from ending DACA. Rather, it merely requires that the administration follow proper administrative procedures to do so, including a more detailed policy reason for terminating the program.

We strongly recommend that all those eligible for DACA continue to timely file their DACA applications. In addition, DACA holders should consult with experienced immigration counsel to explore available immigration alternatives. A well-considered and developed immigration plan is based upon each individual’s specific facts and circumstances. Hence, one should not reply upon immigration advice given to another.

Should you need assistance with DACA or would like to explore your immigration options, please contact our office to schedule a call or meeting to discuss your immigration situation.

[1] Research and writing support provided by Ryne Gottlieb, Law Student at the T.C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond.

Author: Debra Dowd