On September 13, 2023, a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas marked another pivotal moment in the ongoing saga surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The court found the DACA Final Rule unlawful, expanding its original injunction from July 16, 2021, to now cover this Final Rule as well. This new decision is causing both concern and confusion among DACA recipients and their families. In this blog post, we aim to unpack the legal jargon and help you understand what the latest ruling means for DACA recipients.
The DACA Final Rule
Before diving into the latest ruling, it’s essential to understand what the DACA Final Rule is. The Final Rule aimed to outline the procedures and guidelines concerning DACA, including the process for initial requests, renewals, and associated employment authorization. It intended to codify the temporary protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, colloquially known as “Dreamers.”
What the Latest Ruling Means
For Current DACA Recipients
For those who received their initial DACA status before July 16, 2021, the recent ruling brings a sigh of relief, albeit a temporary one. The court maintained a partial stay of the order for this group, meaning that their current DACA grants and related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) would remain valid until they expire. Recipients in this category do not have to submit a request for DACA or employment authorization until the appropriate time to seek renewal.
For New Applicants
While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to accept initial DACA requests, the agency is prohibited from processing these initial applications as per the recent court order. This poses a significant roadblock for new applicants, leaving them in a state of limbo.
For Renewal Requests
USCIS will continue to accept and process DACA renewal requests and accompanying applications for employment authorization under the existing DACA regulations at 8 CFR 236.22 and 236.23. This means if you are a current DACA recipient looking to renew, the process remains unchanged for now.
The latest ruling is yet another reminder that the future of DACA remains uncertain and hangs in the balance of ongoing legal battles. The situation is fluid, and it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest information, which can be found on the USCIS DACA webpage.
While legislative action could provide a more permanent solution, until then, DACA recipients are advised to consult legal professionals for personalized guidance tailored to their specific circumstances.
The recent ruling has deepened the uncertainties surrounding the DACA program but also provided partial relief to existing recipients. While new applicants face an ambiguous future, current “Dreamers” can still renew their status and employment authorizations as before. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and seeking professional advice are the best ways to navigate these challenging times.
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