The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) final rule. According to the DHS, the final rule is meant to codify existing policies with limited amendments. The final rule is effective Oct. 31, 2022.
“Today, we are taking another step to do everything in our power to preserve and fortify DACA, an extraordinary program that has transformed the lives of so many Dreamers,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a press statement.
The DHS claims the decision comes after careful consideration as they reviewed over 16,000 comments they received during the public comment period. Consequently, the final rule will replace the DACA policy guidance that was initiated in the 2012 Napolitano memorandum.
As per their statement, the final rule consists of the following:
- Maintains the existing threshold criteria for DACA;
- Retains the existing process for DACA requestors to seek work authorization; and
- Affirms the longstanding policy that DACA is not a form of lawful status but that DACA recipients, like other deferred action recipients, are considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes.
What does this all really mean?
Government documents are intimidating and oftentimes are difficult to decipher. So, let’s break it down.
For starters, is this a grand change for DACA and its recipients? Unfortunately, no. United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, called out the Biden Administration for not doing enough, considering this final rule changes nothing.
“The rule maintains outdated eligibility cutoff dates that prevent most immigrant youth from accessing the program,” they wrote on their website.
United We Dream combed through the final rule and broke it down into terms everyone can understand. Find their interpretation below.
- If you have DACA right now: you are still protected and will be able to continue renewing for now.
- If you are eligible for DACA but have never applied: DHS can still accept your application but will NOT process it.
- If you are eligible and have applied, DHS will still not process your application, but we will update you if that changes.
- Advance Parole will remain open to DACA recipients
Is enough being done?
In the aforementioned press release, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas stated that thanks to DACA, we have been enriched by young people who contribute so much to our communities and our country – and we agree.
“Yet, we need Congress to pass legislation that provides an enduring solution for the young Dreamers who have known no country other than the United States as their own,” he continued.
These young people are often found working as doctors, engineers, teachers, and more. And yes. Dreamers do pay taxes as well. However, is enough being done to protect them?
The answer is no. More can be done. More needs to be done.
For more information, visit USCIS’ DACA webpage.