In a previous post, we discussed an important US District Court ruling that held the government’s rescission of the DACA program to be unlawful. When the Court issued its ruling on April 24, 2018, it stayed its order to restore DACA for ninety days in order to provide the government with an opportunity to better explain its reasons for terminating the program. Just this month, on August 3, to be exact, the Court reaffirmed its order to fully reinstate DACA. The order is currently on hold for a period of 20 days, which will expire August 23, 2018. Up until that time, the government may seek appeal the Court’s ruling and ask for a stay pending the appeal. Obviously, this is a very significant development for “dreamers,” individuals who were brought to the US at a young age and have lived the majority of their lives here without blemish. If the Court’s order goes into effect, not only will the government have to accept renewal applications-which it is currently doing now, under certain conditions-but it will also have to accept new initial applications. In other words, people who originally qualified for the DACA program but for some reason, never applied and subsequently missed out, may soon have a second chance to apply. While DACA does not confer or graduate into permanent residence, it is one of the few legal safe havens left for those without lawful status, especially now that all forms of humanitarian relief are being gutted. For those who qualify, DACA will at least insulate them from the threat of deportation while also enabling them to work with authorization.
Lest people get too excited, though, there is also another case pending in a different US District Court, also about DACA. In Texas v. Nielsen, the Court is, as you read this, deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction against DACA while the parties litigate its legality. Should the Court rule in favor of the government, the DACA program may be suspended again. Just how exactly this ruling will interface with the current order reinstating the program in its entirety remains to be seen.
Eligible applicants who qualify for renewal must carefully weigh the benefits of extending their DACA status against the risks that their applications may be cast into litigation limbo or worse, ultimately rejected. At the same time, as long as the risk of exposure to removal proceedings is minimal-something that should be carefully assessed with counsel-the forfeiture of filing fees may be a small price to pay to secure protection in this era of hyperactive enforcement.
The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.