Let’s clear up a few things right now.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement today that the Trump administration will force the expiration of DACA, the program that gives short-term protections to young undocumented immigrants, is not a “delay”that will give Congress an opportunity to find a permanent legislative solution. Nor is the decision to put off immediate revocation of the program for all of its nearly 800,000 recipients a “compromise” on the part of Donald Trump, who, members of his administration have insisted, has been moved by so-called Dreamers. And no, despite Sessions’s remarks on Tuesday morning describing the decision as the “compassionate” thing to do for the country, it is not.
Effective today, the Trump administration has ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the successful program that has granted nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants short-term reprieves from deportation along with access to work permits, driver’s licenses, and educational opportunities. A memo released Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, titled “Memorandum on Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” says as much.
USCIS, the agency that processes DACA, will stop accepting new applications immediately. It will assess applications it has already received as of today, “on an individual, case-by-case basis.” Yes, for a key segment of the DACA population, today’s news includes a real benefit. Those whose DACA permits are set to expire within six months (by March 5, 2018) will have one month to file renewal paperwork, and, if they are approved, could theoretically maintain their status until the year 2020. Less than a quarter, or 190,000 young people may be able to apply for renewal before this cutoff, The Washington Post reported.
But because every person with DACA applies for and receives their approval on an individual basis, every single day someone’s status expires. And those whose DACA is set to expire on or after March 6 will be unable to apply for renewal. According to research from the Cato Institute, nearly 600,000 DACA recipients will see their status expire after that day. That’s the vast majority of those who are currently able to live and work in the country under DACA. For them, this six-month delay is no delay at all.