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CLE Course Explores Future of DACA

November 30, 2017

Photo by Maggio Kattar Immigration reform is in a state of flux with President Donald Trump’s decision in September to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, leaving Congress a six-month window to find a legislative solution for the estimated 800,000 undocumented individuals who will be left in limbo. Enacted by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA deferred deportation of and provided work permits to immigrants who entered the country illegally as minors, commonly known as Dreamers.

On December 6 the D.C. Bar CLE Program will address that question in the class “DACA and Other Issues Related to Children and Immigration.” Below, one of the course’s faculty members, Anna Marie Gallagher of Maggio, Kattar, Nahajzer & Alexander, P.C., offers a preview and provides insights into the future of DACA and what’s next for immigration reform.

What are the latest developments on DACA?

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program, which permitted close to 800,000 young immigrants to work and remain in the United States under what is called deferred action. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum released shortly after the announcement described the wind-down of the program. DHS agreed to adjudicate any and all DACA applications for extensions [that] were pending on September 5. A limited number of DACA recipients—those with DACA expiration dates before March 5, 2018—were permitted to file for extensions after the announcement, provided that those applications were filed before October 5, 2017. The remainder will lose their right to work and the right to remain in the United States without threat of deportation upon the expiration of their current DACA grant.

There have been several lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country challenging the rescission of DACA, including suits filed by DACA recipients, by the NAACP, and a number of states, which remain pending.

On November 21, two immigrants from Virginia filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking their DACA rights reinstated and extended for two years. They argue that the Trump administration’s decision to deny them the opportunity to once more renew DACA violates their constitutional rights. This will be a case to watch.

What’s next for Dreamers?

Congressional members from both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation that would protect Dreamers, including the bipartisan, bicameral Dream Act (S. 1615/H.R. 3440). Given the current polarization in Congress, many predict that it is unlikely that any legislation protecting the Dreamers will pass in the near future.

What are the potential challenges?

Given the new enforcement priorities under the Trump administration, many fear that thousands of Dreamers will be targeted for deportation as soon as their deferred action status expires. Anyone who is without status in the United States is a priority for deportation. While immigration authorities ostensibly retain discretion in determining who will be deported, ICE attorneys and agents rarely exercise this discretion in favor of persons without status, including DACA recipients with expired status. Anyone without status in the U.S., including the Dreamers, should assume that they will be placed in deportation proceedings if they come to the attention of ICE after their permission to work and remain in the U.S. under deferred action has expired. This is the new normal under the Trump administration.

What should people expect from this CLE course?

We are excited to train attorneys on how they can best advocate for and protect their young immigrant clients in the United States. We’ll explain how the immigration laws apply to children, and the options that attorneys can pursue to reunite them with family in the United States. We will also talk about ways to seek asylum for them if they have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. We have a panel of experts [which also include Priya Konings of Kids in Need of Defense and Shanti L. Martin Brown, an immigration staff attorney at Ayuda] who work every day with children to identify the best strategy for them under the immigration laws.

Register for this course today. “DACA and Other Issues Related to Children and Immigration” takes place on December 6 from 5:30 to 8:45 p.m. at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. The class is also offered as a webinar.