On June 14, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it has rescinded Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). DAPA was a program created in 2014 under President Barack Obama. The program would have deferred the deportation of undocumented immigrants, who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent citizens. It was never fully implemented, however. For now a program that provides similar protections to childhood arrivals—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—will remain in effect. As reported by the New York Times, White House officials announced on the morning of June 16 that President Donald Trump has not made a decision about the long-term fate of the DACA program.
In 2014, DAPA was blocked by a federal judge in Texas after twenty six states challenged the program’s policies. A three-member panel affirmed the ruling in November 2015. The Justice Department appealed the decision, but the Supreme Court ruled in a split vote in June 2016 and prevented further changes. Had the program been enacted, nearly 4 million parents would have been spared from deportation and permitted to work legally in the U.S.
According to a fact sheet released by the DHS, DAPA was rescinded by DHS Secretary John Kelly. Mr. Kelly said he made the decision because “there is no credible path to litigate the currently enjoined policy.” In a press release, the DHS stated that DACA will continue to remain in effect. Since DACA’s inception, the program has benefited almost 800,000 people.
Despite the reassurance that the DACA program will remain in effect, many remain fearful that the Trump administration will end the program. Two days after the DAPA program was rescinded, White House and DHS officials clarified that the DHS release was only to clarify that those enrolled in the DACA program would not be immediately affected by the decision to rescind DAPA. According to a statement by Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, there has been no final decision with regard to the program’s future. Although President Trump has not made any moves to rescind DACA, keeping the program would contradict his original campaign promise. At a rally during his campaign, President Trump vowed that he would “immediately terminate” the DACA program and stated that President Obama’s enactment of the program “defied federal law and the Constitution,” according to the New York Times.
The policy changes are creating uncertainty for immigrant populations. For example, on the Berkley University website, the educational institution outlined important information for current and potential DACA recipients. Under Berkley’s Undocumented Student Program section it states, “It is unclear whether the Trump Administration will keep DACA and what it would do with the information collected through the program.” Additionally, Berkley warns that initial or renewal DACA recipients should not apply if they have a recent criminal history, as it may make the applicant a priority for removal and provide information necessary for the government to put him or her in removal proceedings. Those with criminal histories are advised to consult an attorney.
As immigration policies rapidly transform under the Trump administration, it is important that non-citizens consult an experienced immigration attorney who will inform them of their legal rights and available pathways to legal residence or citizenship. The New York City immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP are experienced in handling a variety of immigration matters, including DACA applications and renewal and immigration eligibility with a criminal record. For more information about our comprehensive services or to schedule a consultation, contact our New York City immigration law office at (212) 267-2129.