Will Californians feel the impact of disruptions to the DACA program? Attorney General Xavier Becerra believes they will, and is leading California’s legal challenge against the Trump administration, arguing that the state’s economy will be severely impacted when the over 200,000 young DACA residents, or Dreamers, are left unprotected. The lack of due process in the current administration’s rules will leave California with the lion’s share of disaffected Dreamers.
A Brief Explanation of DACA
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was former President Obama’s immigration policy granting children who were brought into the country illegally by their parents the ability to live and work without fear of deportation. Eligibility requirements state that applicants had to have come to this country before the age of 16, and were not older than 30 in 2012 when the policy was made into law. Dreamers applied for deferrals for deportation every two years, resulting in safe and legal living in the United States upon approval. The primary beneficiaries of the law were from Mexico, with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras just behind.
What California Stands to Lose
California’s losses will be significant if the Trump administration’s plans come to fruition. Dreamers who currently have valid drivers’ licenses, attend college, and pay income taxes will be under threat of deportation as soon as their current deferrals expire. The contributions, both socially and economically, of the Dreamers and their families, are at risk.
Why End DACA?
There are many who oppose protections for the dreamers, 10 state attorney generals among them. This past summer, the president was threatened with a lawsuit if he did not rescind the policy, claiming the previous president had overreached his executive authority with the enactment. Jeff Sessions agreed that the program is unconstitutional, giving blanket immunity to a huge swath of people. He says DACA could not be defended in a court of law with any success.
What Does the Future Hold?
As it stands now, Congress is holding the bag on DACA. President Trump has asked for a resolution to the issue, and four key plans have been on the drawing board:
- The Dream Act: Provides protections for Dreamers along with a path for citizenship or permanent resident status;
- Recognizing America’s Children Act: Codifies the provisions of DACA and provides opportunities for citizenship application after 10 years;
- The American Hope Act: Allows Dreamers who came to the U.S, before age 18 the opportunity to apply for permanent residence status after three years. Five years later they are eligible to apply for citizenship;
- The Bridge Act: Codifies DACA provisions, extends it for three years, and prompts Congress to develop a comprehensive solutions in that time period. It does not provide a pathway to citizenship.
Where it goes from here is debatable. While the President has voiced support for the Dreamers, he has also indicated a desire to attach any legislation to stronger immigration controls, which could result in bickering over the final bill.
Consult with Us
For your questions concerning immigration, DACA, or legal matters related to the workplace, contact the experienced team at HKM in Los Angeles. We pride ourselves on our aggressive defense of our clients.