In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) instituted a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). The program allowed for certain unauthorized aliens who entered the United States as children to apply for DACA and potentially be protected from removal from the United States for two years. In addition, DACA recipients were eligible for work authorization and other federal benefits.
Since the implementation of DACA, over 700,000 individuals have qualified for the program. However, in 2017, DHS attempted to terminate DACA due to the government’s position that DACA was illegal from its inception. DHS proceeded to attempt to wind down the program by only accepting applications from current DACA recipients whose status was set to expire within 6 months.
On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court held that DHS’s decision to terminate DACA was unlawful because the decision was “arbitrary and capricious”. You can read the opinion in its entirety here.
How Does the Supreme Court Decision Impact Potential DACA Recipients?
The Supreme Court decision primarily impacts new potential applicants for DACA who were previously barred from applying under DHS’s prior change of policy.
Who is Eligible for DACA?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may request DACA if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012,
- Are at least 15 years of age or older (unless you are in removal proceedings),
- Entered the United States before reaching your 16th birthday,
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 to present,
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for DACA with USCIS,
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012,
- Are either currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States,
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or 3 or more other misdemeanors,
- Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If you meet all of the aforementioned guidelines, you are eligible for DACA and can apply immediately to USCIS by filing form I-821D. For more information on applying for DACA, you can visit the USCIS website here.
Benefits of DACA
Individuals who are granted DACA are granted deferral of removal from the United States for a period of two years. In addition, DACA recipients are eligible for work permits and other federal benefits such as Medicare or Social Security.
Individuals for DACA can reapply for DACA benefits every two years.
Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for DACA?
You are not required to hire an attorney to file for DACA. However, many individuals that want to file for DACA will have legal issues that could prevent them from approval. The most common issues that could prevent an individual from obtaining DACA involve current or prior criminal arrests such as:
- Have you been previously convicted of a felony?
- Have you been previously convicted of a “significant misdemeanor”?
- Have you been convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors?
If you answered yes to any of these three questions, you could be denied eligibility for DACA. However, an experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney could help you navigate a complex DACA application that has underlying criminal issues.
For example, you may be eligible to file a motion to vacate certain convictions or an attorney could argue that certain charges don’t qualify as charges that bar DACA eligibility.
To determine whether you are eligible for DACA, you should schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney. Call Hubbs Law at 305-570-4802 to schedule your consultation today.
Disclaimer: Please note that by reading this blog you are not entering into an attorney-client relationship with Hubbs Law, P.A. This blog only provides general legal information. Every case is unique and you should request a consultation to ensure that you are getting the correct legal advice for your specific case.