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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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How will DACA’s termination impact employers?
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How will DACA’s termination impact employers?

Earlier this month, the Trump administration moved to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The announcement has not only created an uncertain future for the approximately 800,000 young people covered under the program, but could also have a direct impact on thousands of U.S. companies nationwide.

What exactly is DACA?

President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 through executive order. The program allows hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country, as long as they arrived here before 2007 and don't have serious criminal histories.

DACA provides beneficiaries a two-year Employment Authorization Card/Document (EAC or EAD) and protects them from deportation during the two-year validity period, barring any form of criminal behavior. Over the course of the program, beneficiaries applied for DACA renewal for additional two-year periods. DACA does not by itself provide permanent residence or citizenship, or make beneficiaries eligible for any other immigration benefit.

What happens to beneficiaries now that the program has been terminated?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, current DACA/EADs remain valid until their expiration date, meaning individuals with DACA/EAD cards may continue to live and work in the U.S. until their current card expires. Pending DACA/EAD application requests received and accepted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of September 5, 2017 will continue to be processed. USCIS will also process all DACA/EAD renewal applications received as of this date. The agency is accepting renewal applications until October 5, 2017, from beneficiaries  whose DACA/EAD validity expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. However, USCIS is accepting no new applications for initial DACA/EADs.

After their authorization expiries, beneficiaries will not be able to work in the U.S. unless they obtain legal status and employment authorization through other means. While some DACA beneficiaries may apply for a victim visa or permanent residence, these benefits are not connected to their DACA status.

Will there be a move to replace DACA?

Congress will explore legislative solutions over DACA's six- month phase-out period. Past attempts include the well-known DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), introduced several times since 2001 to provide legal status and a possible path to U.S. citizenship based on military service, education and employment. The most recent DREAM act version was introduced in July, but Congress has yet to move ahead on the latest iteration of the bill.

The BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy)  was another recent legislative attempt to address DACA's pending termination. Essentially turning DACA from an executive order program to a law, the BRIDGE Act would give beneficiaries the same benefits as DACA, but over a period of three years. The act would also give Congress additional time to implement permanent legislation, its authors said.

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