It’s been about a day since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump Administration’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The announcement was met with some very strong reactions, including 400 U.S. CEOs.
So what now? Here’s everything you need to know and look for as plans to discontinue the DACA program unfold.
What is DACA?
The DACA program allows young men and women, who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay if they meet some basic requirements. It was conceived as a way to protect young people who have grown up in the United States and allow them to contribute to the economy and the country without the threat of deportation.
When was DACA passed?
The Obama Administration put the program in place in 2012. After urging Congress to draft a policy to protect young undocumented Americans during his first term, President Obama bypassed the legislature and created the program through an executive order. On Facebook Tuesday, Obama’s DACA statement condemned the decision to end the program, calling it “wrong,” “self-defeating,” and “cruel.”
Who does DACA affect?
There are nearly 800,000 “Dreamers” — young people who are currently protected by the program and most of whom came to the U.S. from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Under DACA, Dreamers could apply for two-year work visas that prevent them from being deported.
In order to be eligible for the DACA program, someone needs to have arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old, lived in the country since June 15, 2007, and have been under 30 years old when the policy was enacted. The program allows these individuals to apply for driver’s licenses, enroll in college, legally find jobs, and pay income taxes.
New applications for visas under DACA are no longer being accepted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Department of Homeland Security says it will only process initial work visa applications, first-time DACA program applicants, if they were accepted on or before Sept. 5, 2017. People who already have a 2-year work visa through DACA that’s set to expire before March 5, 2018 they have until Oct. 5, 2017 to submit their renewal paperwork.
This will not work the same way as college applications or taxes — if you get your envelope postmarked the same day as the deadline you’re in the clear. DHS will only process renewal applications that it receives and accepts before Oct. 5.
Why did Trump end DACA?
This decision will appease the president’s far-right base of supporters by fulfilling his campaign promise to end the DACA program and enact more nationalist, America first immigration policies. With this announcement, the White House shifted responsibility for the future of DACA to Congress, allowing president Trump to take a more hands-off approach to deporting young people and their families.
It’s worth noting that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have urged Trump not to end the program.
When does DACA expire?
No one currently protected under the DACA program will be affected prior to March 5th, 2018, according to the Trump Administration. This gives Congress six months to put legislation in place to continue granting work visas to Dreamers. If lawmakers can’t agree on a new solution during this very busy congressional session, DACA recipients could be at risk of deportation as early as March.
Current estimates are that the decision to end the program could cost the U.S. economy $280 billion and 700,000 jobs. Several states, including New York and Washington, promised to sue the federal government if DACA protection was rescinded.
The business community also voiced support for the program and the young people under its protection over the weekend. The 400 business leaders who spoke out yesterday, including CEOs at Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, signed a letter saying that Dreamers are “vital to the future of our companies and our economy” and are “part of why we will continue to have a competitive global advantage.”