June 18, 2017
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security made an unexpected announcement: the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program started under the Obama Administration will – for the time being – continue under the Trump Administration. While this isn’t an open-ended commitment (and is short on specifics), DHS specifically notes that employment authorization gained through DACA will not be voided early. This means that anyone who received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based on DACA status will be able to continue working legally in the United States for at least the duration of their current EAD’s validity.
During the campaign, candidate Trump repeatedly signaled an intention to discontinue the DACA program once in office, and leaked memos from the first weeks of his administration implied an intent to follow through on that promise. It is possible that sustained activist pressure has made cuts to DACA politically unpalatable for an administration already under pressure from all angles, though it is also possible that they are simply saving this fight for a later date. It is also important to pay careful attention to real-world implementation of this policy, as we already have seen that DACA recipients may be detained by immigration enforcement agents, despite their nominally-protected status. Such incidents – isolated though they may be – likely give Dreamers fear of engaging with local or federal government agencies, counteracting one of President Obama’s stated goals for the DACA plan.
The announcement about DACA was buried in a memo that was primarily about the DAPA program, which was a more recent Obama Administration effort to extend the protections offered by DACA to the parents of Dreamers. DAPA was never implemented under the previous administration, and Thursday’s memo confirms that the current administration has no intention of doing so now.
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