Due to a contempt hearing scheduled for August 19, 2015 in the case of the State of Texas v. United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is taking radical measures to recover all three-year Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards issued prematurely under President Obama’s November 20 executive actions to over 2,500 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.
As way of background, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen noted that the issuance of the three-year work permits—an aspect of President Obama’s November 20 executive actions which expanded DACA—was a violation of his February 16 injunction. Consequently, Judge Hanen entered an order last month requiring U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez, ICE Director Sarah Saldana, CBP Deputy Chief Ronal Vitiello, and CBP Director Gil Kerlikowske to appear in court in Brownsville, Texas on August 19 to explain why they should not be held in contempt. The court advised that it would cancel the hearing if the government was able to demonstrate that it had come into compliance by filing a report summarizing all compliance steps it had undertaken by July 31, 2015. Specifically, the court advised the government to: (i) update all necessary databases to reflect two-year deferred action and employment authorization; (ii) retrieve the erroneously issues 3 year EAD cards; or (iii) demonstrate that “substantial effort” was undertaken to retrieve the erroneously issues 3 year cards, including home visits.
With the July 31st deadline having come and gone, plainclothes USCIS officers have begun knocking on the doors of the 3 year EAD recipients who have not returned their EAD cards in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and San Francisco. More home visits are expected in other cities.
DACA recipients who are unsure of whether they need to return their EAD card may verify this at “Check Your DACA Work Permit” page on USCIS’ website. Please keep in mind that the penalty for failing to return the erroneously issued 3 year EAD card is termination of DACA status as well as employment authorization. Additionally, USCIS will view the failure to comply in a negative light for purposes of any future requests for deferred action or any other discretionary matters.