What Happens If DACA Ends?

President Donald Trump has said that DACA recipients can “Rest easy” but the program is being threatened by a group of states who have told the Trump administration they will sue unless the program is ended. So what would happen if the program is terminated? The nonpartisan think tank, Cato Institute, recently released their analysis of what happens next.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and was started through an executive order by former President Barack Obama. Those eligible to apply were brought to the United States illegally by their parents before their 16th birthday. They needed to have a clean record, be enrolled school and pass other requirements. Those eligible, commonly referred to as DREAMers, were granted three benefits; deprioritization for removal from the United States, “deferred action,” and employment authorization. The Cato study goes through what each of those terms means and how they will be impacted by a potential end to DACA.

Will DREAMers be deported?

The first part of DACA is deprioritization for removal. The executive order prevents DREAMers ” from being placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States.” This places those eligible for DACA as low priority when it comes to being targeted by immigration officers. On February 20th a new immigration enforcement memo targeted nearly all undocumented immigrants living in the United States. So if DACA is removed the Cato study believes the priority level of DREAMers would be the same as other undocumented immigrants, thus making them eligible for deportation.

Will DREAMers immediately lose deferred action?

The deferred action goes hand in hand with deprioritization. Essentially it protects those in the DACA program from being arrested by immigration officers because of their undocumented status. According to Cato if an immigration officer searches a DACA recipients name in their database they will find that person’s status is “lawfully present.” The Cato study found that it is unclear what will happen to deferred action if DACA is ended but it does include some possible outcomes.

  1. The administration leaves the program intact but doesn’t renew or issue new DACA benefits. That means the program will end on its own. The last of the recipients would see their cards expire in September of 2019.
  2. The administration could leave it up to individual immigration officers to determine if someone will have their DACA benefits removed on a case-by-case decision.

Will DREAMers immediately lose employment authorization?

DACA also gave immigrants an opportunity to work legally in the United States by applying for an Employment Authorization Document. The cards typically expire in two years. The Cato study states that because employment authorization is dependent on a grant of deferred action, canceling that portion of DACA means legally employment authorizations would end as well. One thing that bodes well for cardholders is that the EADs do not have any indication they were issued under DACA. Employers must accept any valid, unexpired ID.

When will DACA end?

The states who have threatened a lawsuit against the Trump administration gave the president until September 5th to end the DACA program or face legal action. Trump has not indicated what he will do when confronted with that deadline and it’s unclear if the federal government would defend DACA in court. As we told you earlier if the program is phased out and allowed to expire the final DACA recipients will see their benefits end in September 2019.

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