On December 2020, eligible immigrants could once again file initial applications for benefits through Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is an immigration policy whereby certain people who came to the United States as children and met several guidelines could receive temporary renewable protection from deportation.
However, a recent case has made that more challenging.
On July 16, 2021, Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA was illegal and enjoined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from accepting new applicants. This means that first time applicants can still file DACA applications, but those applications will be put on hold because the DHS is currently prohibited from granting initial DACA requests. This new ruling has NOT affected existing DACA recipients and they are still eligible to renew DACA .
While this ruling is at least another temporary setback for the many undocumented immigrants hoping to apply for DACA, there is still hope that it will reopen again. DACA has faced setback after setback throughout its nine-year history, but has always prevailed. We are optimistic that DACA will reopen soon. President Biden has indicated that he supports DACA and intends to have the Department of Justice appeal this decision.
DO I QUALIFY
Even though DHS is not accepting new applications at the moment, there are still some things you can do. First, you have to see if you qualify for DACA. To qualify, you must:
1. Have been born after June 15, 1981
2. Have entered the U.S. before your 16th birthday
3. Have continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 up to the present
4. Have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
5. Have been undocumented as of June 15, 2012
6. Be currently enrolled in school, have graduated high school, or have a GED, and
7. Have no significant criminal history
If you qualify, the best thing to do would be to prepare all of your documents so that when initial DACA are once again being decided, you will have everything ready for submission.
Current DACA recipients are NOT affected by the decision and DACA renewals will continue. DHS is still processing and approving renewal DACA requests. For people looking to apply for DACA renewals, we recommend that you apply six months before your current DACA and employment authorization expire.
HOW DO I FIND HELP
Here at the McGeorge Immigration Clinic, we provide free legal services to qualified individuals who are interested in applying for DACA. We work holistically with our clients to assess eligibility for DACA and other immigration benefits. Even if you are still unsure about DACA, please contact us to learn more about other forms of eligibility. If you have questions or are interested in applying for DACA, please contact us at (916) 340-6080 to see if you qualify for a consultation at our Immigration Clinic.
About Justin Trinh
Justin is a rising second-year student at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He has been a student attorney in the Immigration Clinic since May 2021.