On September 27, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that would preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. While the proposed rule will undergo a 60-day public comment period, the agency encouraged Congress to find a permanent solution for Dreamers.
What Does the Proposed Rule Mean for Current DACA Recipients?
The 205-page rule would protect over 700,000 undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children from deportation or losing their work permits. The rule accepts the consistent ruling—from DHS and three presidential administrations—that DACA recipients should not be a priority for deportation or removal.
In order to qualify for DACA, individuals must have arrived in the U.S. before turning 16 years of age, have been continuously living in the country since June 15, 2007, have graduated or currently enrolled in school, have no felony convictions on their criminal record, are not considered a national-security or public-safety threat, and meet other requirements
What Does the Proposed Rule Mean for Potential DACA Applicants?
After Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Houston ruled that the creation of DACA was unconstitutional in July, DHS is barred from approving new applications but allowed to continue accepting renewals for current beneficiaries. The Biden administration has appealed this ruling.
What is the Public Comment Period?
The public comment period gives the DHS an opportunity to review any suggestions on the legality of the policy and alternative approaches to the rule. When the public comment period is complete, the agency will consider all valid comments before a final rule is issued.
What Will Congress Do to Protect DACA?
Democrats had attempted to include a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and millions of other undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. in a $3.5-trillion spending bill. However, the Senate parliamentarian prevented the Democrats from including immigration provisions in the bill.
In the meantime, Democrats are exploring alternative measures to address the immigration system. One of those measures is updating the “immigration registry,” which currently gives lawful permanent residency (or a green card) to undocumented immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 1972, have been continuously living in the country since then, be a person of “good moral character,” and meet other requirements.