By Ignacia Rodriguez, NILC immigration policy advocate / National Immigration Law Center
There are many concerns about what could happen to the DACA program [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals]—and DACA recipients—once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Trump said during his campaign that he intends to end the DACA program, though he has not said exactly if, how, or when this might actually occur. We also won’t know until after Trump takes office on January 20, 2017, what Trump administration officials might do with the information that DACA applicants have submitted on their applications.
There are various actions he can take. Two of them are:
- Rescind the memo authorizing DACA and allow previously issued DACA and work permits to remain valid until expiration. No new applications for first-time DACA or DACA renewal would be accepted.
- Rescind the memo authorizing DACA and declare immediately invalid all previously issued DACA and work permits.
At NILC, we have been asked whether people should apply for DACA or advance parole (to travel outside the U.S.) now that Trump has been elected. Since DACA’s introduction in 2012, the decision whether to apply for DACA has been a personal choice, leaving the individual to weigh the benefits and risks before applying. We know that giving your information to immigration authorities can be a risk, but we also know the many benefits that come from DACA, such as those highlighted in the recent report New Study of DACA Beneficiaries Shows Positive Economic and Educational Outcomes.
Over 700,000 people so far have opted to apply for and received DACA, and many of them have found better paying jobs, gotten driver’s licenses, and enjoyed other positive benefits. Again, whether to apply for DACA is a personal choice, but here are some of NILC’s post-election recommendations.
Should I Apply for DACA as a First-Time Applicant?
If you do not currently have DACA and are considering whether to apply for it for the first time, we recommend that you not do so at this time. Due to the uncertainty of what will happen with DACA and the legitimate fears experienced by immigrant communities, we recommend not applying for DACA until we see what happens next year under a Trump administration. You can still gather supporting documents and prepare an application now, if you want to have it ready to be filed when the future of the program becomes clear.
Also consider that if someone applies for DACA today, their case will likely not be processed until after January (it takes over three months to process an application), and by then the DACA program may be discontinued. Not only will the application likely not be approved, but the person will lose the $465 application fee.
Should I Apply for DACA Renewal?
If you already have DACA and are considering whether to renew it, immigration authorities already have the information on your original application, so there is less risk in submitting the renewal application. If you are able to renew your DACA, you may be able to have it for an additional two years. These would be two more years in which you would be able to work legally and have protection from deportation*.
Remember that you can renew your DACA at any time, even if it is not set to expire until late next year. It is currently taking USCIS about 120 days to approve DACA renewals. Although USCIS could speed up their processing, it is possible that your DACA renewal will not be approved before January 20.
Should I Travel Abroad?
If you applied for or have received advance parole (permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad), be sure to return to the U.S. before January 20, 2017. It may be harder to return to the U.S. after that date if the law changes, and there is no certainty that you will be able to return on or after that date.
For more information, see New Questions and Answers About DACA Now That Trump Is President-Elect.
*This assumes the new administration does not immediately revoke all issued DACA and work permits upon rescinding the memo and allows the program to end on its own (DACA and work permits remain valid until expiration, but no new applications are accepted).