The DACA Deadline Is Still There – We Just Don’t Know When It Is

Defend DACA by Molly Adams


If President Trump had his way, today—March 5—would mark the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. When the Administration announced in September 2017 that it would be rescinding DACA, it stated that today would be the last day before thousands of DACA recipients across the country would lose their work permits and protection from deportation. Of course, the reality has been that thousands of DACA recipients have already lost their protections because of the way the Trump administration suddenly tried to take away the program, but starting tomorrow, many more would be at risk if the administration had its way.


If there is some good news today, it is that two federal courts have found that the way that the President tried to end the DACA program was unlawful and have blocked him from fully implementing that decision. These court decisions (by federal district court judges in San Francisco and New York) mean that individuals who have previously been approved for DACA can still pursue renewal applications for that form of protection. Those decisions require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept and process renewal applications but does not require it to accept new applications from people who never applied for DACA. (To read in more detail what this means for DACA recipients, you can read our advisory here.


Because of these court decisions, some people may think that today’s DACA “deadline” no longer exists. Certainly, the court rulings will mitigate some of the impact of the President’s decision to end DACA. But the uncertainty and danger for DACA recipients and their families is still out there: the Administration is fighting hard to overturn the court rulings so it can fully implement this attack on immigrant communities. And the court rulings are temporary in nature and susceptible to being overturned at some point by a higher court.


So the deadline faced by undocumented individuals who have been protected by DACA is still out there, it is just harder to know when it will be. So we hope that today we remember what the Administration wanted today to be and what it is actively working to make happen. The uncertainty about the deadline has sapped urgency for Congress to take action to enact permanent protections for DACA recipients and their families. We urge you to continue to be allies to undocumented community members and call on Congress to pass legislation like the Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other undocumented individuals.


Image by Molly Adams