What is DACA?

In 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama issued a memorandum that instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and meet certain eligibility criteria to (i) request a period of “deferred action” from the government and (ii) apply for authorization to work in the U.S. Though a grant of DACA represents the government’s decision not to take action to remove a person from the U.S., it does not impart any legal immigrant or nonimmigrant status. DACA benefits are generally valid for two years from the date of issuance.

Why did the Trump administration try to terminate it?

On September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it was rescinding the 2012 DACA memorandum and terminating the program. The agency stated that the decision to terminate DACA was based on a determination by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions that DACA was an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.” The DHS memorandum provided that the agency would allow a “wind-down” period and would stop renewing DACA applications that expired on or after March 6, 2018.

How did the issue make it to the Supreme Court?

Multiple parties filed lawsuits challenging the government’s termination of DACA as unlawful. These lawsuits resulted in injunctions by federal courts to maintain the status quo while the cases proceeded. The injunctions required DHS to continue accepting applications to renew DACA by individuals who currently have or previously had DACA, but not initial applications.

Are there other lawsuits challenging DACA?

Yes. Texas and other states brought a lawsuit in 2018 challenging the legality of DACA. This is different from the other cases, which challenge the Trump administration’s termination of DACA. That lawsuit was on hold because of the Supreme Court case, but after the ruling was released, the judge ordered the parties to submit a joint status report in July.

How many people are present in the U.S. on DACA?

There are more than 800,000 “Dreamers” in the U.S. who have been granted relief under DACA. An estimated 700,000 DACA recipients are currently working for U.S. employers.

Will Congress find a legislative solution?

Only Congress has authority to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers that offers legal status in the U.S., and stakeholders have been encouraging lawmakers for years to find a bipartisan solution. It is impossible to predict at this time whether Congress will pass a law that grants some form of relief from removal to DACA beneficiaries, particularly in an election year.