DACA Window Begins to Close

After months of speculation about President Trump’s handling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program will begin to wind down, with a six-month window. The decision means any relief for Dreamers– DACA beneficiaries– is left in the hands of Congress.

With the implementation of the DACA phase out, announced just after the Labor Day holiday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept DACA applications.Current beneficiaries of the program whose permits expire by March 5 are allowed to apply for a two-year renewal through October 5. However, legal status for some DACA recipients will end as early as March 6, 2018.

The six-month window to wind down the DACA program, according to reports, is designed to give Congress time to craft new immigration legislation. While Congress has been slow to pass legislation around immigration reform, President Trump’s decision to end the program forces the hand of legislators on the matter. DACA, which came into existence under an executive order from President Obama, bypasses the nation’s legal system, says Sessions.

For his part, President Trump said he looks forward to working with Republicans and Democrats and will “resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process.”

President Trump has already announced his support for the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, introduced by Under a newly-proposed bill from two Republican senators– Tom Cotton of Georgia and David Purdue of Arkansas. The RAISE Act shifts immigration preferences to a more skills-based focus and reduces allowances for family-based immigration.

Still, officials from states around the country are speaking out against the revocation of DACA. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that the “president’s action would upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have only ever called America their home.”

Separately, the attorney general of Washington state, Bob Ferguson, likewise threatened legal action. “I will use all the legal tools at my disposal to defend the thousands of Dreamers in Washington state,” he said in a statement.

In July, Ferguson and Schneiderman and 18 other attorneys general wrote to Trump to tell him they were ready to defend DACA beneficiaries in their states “by all appropriate means.”

On the other side of the aisle, nine Republican state attorneys general gave the president through September 5 to end the program. If he had not, the AGs were set to file suit in federal court. In his statement to the press, Attorney General Sessions said consensus in the Department of Justice was that DACA faced the same obstacles as the Deferred Actions for the Parents of Americans and Legal Residents (DAPA) program. Shortly after President Obama introduced DAPA, some state attorneys general gained an injunction against the program, preventing it from ever getting underway.