On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced that the administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program provides protection from deportation for certain qualifying undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. If approved, DACA grantees are eligible for work authorization and a social security number. Since the program’s inception, many DACA grantees have enrolled in colleges and universities and/or are working on campus.
Future of DACA
With the rescission of the Executive Order establishing the DACA program, it is up to Congress to pass legislation to continue the program or provide protection to these individuals. Absent legislation, all DACA grantees may be deported once their DACA authorization expires. A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for those currently eligible for DACA. This bill is not new to Congress—iterations of this bill have been introduced in Congress over the past 15 years without any success. What DACA Grantees Should Know
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has indicated that it will not terminate grants of previously approved work authorization for the remaining duration of their validity periods. DHS will process those DACA applications that are currently on file but will not accept any new applications after September 5, 2017. Those who have been granted DACA and who are eligible for a renewal of their work authorization (i.e., those who expire on March 5, 2018 or earlier) may file to renew their work authorization by October 5, 2017, after which time work authorization extensions will not be accepted. At this time, it is unclear if DHS will grant a full two years of work authorization or if the authorization period will be time limited. All currently-pending applications to travel outside of the United States under the program will be administratively closed and application fees will be refunded.
What Colleges and Universities Should Know
Colleges and universities should be aware that students and employees who have been granted DACA will lose their DACA protections and work authorization once they expire. These individuals may be deported once their authorization expires. DHS possesses these students’ personal information, including address, fingerprints, and photo. College and university administrators should be careful not to provide immigration advice to those who have been granted DACA but refer these students to a qualified immigration attorney. For those DACA grantees currently working on campus, their work authorization will be valid through the validity period on the document presented by the DACA grantee.