UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration from Terminating DACA

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Update Aug. 24: On August 24, 2020, USCIS released new guidance on how it plans to implement a July 28 memorandum regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Under the new guidance, USCIS will reject all DACA requests from individuals who have not previously received DACA and return all corresponding fees.

USCIS will continue to accept requests from individuals who have previously received DACA, but will limit grants of deferred action and employment authorization to no more than one year. DACA recipients are advised to submit their renewal requests between 150 and 120 days before their current grant expires.

USCIS will also continue to accept properly submitted advance parole requests, but will only grant advance parole if it can be proved that the parole is for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Update July 30: The Trump administration said it is again reviewing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will not accept new initial requests for DACA.

DHS also announced that DACA beneficiaries can still apply for renewals, but DHS will only grant renewals in a one-year period, rather than two-year periods. Advanced parole or travel benefits will also be more highly scrutinized.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, June 18, that the Trump administration cannot immediately terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

What happened?

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration may not move forward with immediately rescinding DACA, which currently allows approximately 700,000 young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. under protected status.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the swing vote in the decision, explained in his majority opinion that the administration failed to provide an adequate reason for ending the program, calling the attempt “arbitrary and capricious.” 

The justices also upheld the right for courts to review certain executive branch actions, which the Trump administration previously claimed were outside their purview.

Former President Barack Obama established DACA in 2012. The program aimed to provide legal protection and work authorization to children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country under the age of 16 and by 2007. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), then led by Obama appointee Janet Napolitano, was tasked with overseeing the program.

Under President Trump’s orders, DHS announced plans to end DACA in 2017, but was met with immediate legal challenges in lower courts. Lawsuits allowed current DACA recipients to continue renewing their work permits, but DHS stopped accepting new applicants.

What happens next?

The Supreme Court did not make a decision on whether DACA, or its rescission, are sound policies. This leaves the door open to future attempts by the Trump administration to end the program, if it can offer a stronger justification. Without congressional action, the future of DACA remains uncertain.

A recent poll from Pew Research Center shows that 74% of U.S. adults support legal status for DACA recipients, often known as “Dreamers.” In addition, a government study found that 90% of recipients hold jobs in the U.S. In the years leading up to this decision, business groups including Apple and Microsoft, spoke out in favor of DACA, pointing to their own employees who are part of the program.

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Ryan Bay, who is a Partner, Legal Operations at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.