Since President Trump took office in January 2017, many DREAMers have anxiously awaited DACA news. While there has been a noticeable increase in immigration enforcement actions, the administration had remained fairly quiet on the deferred action program. Then, on April 21, 2017, President Trump stated in an Associated Press interview: “Here is what they can hear: The DREAMers should rest easy. OK? I’ll give you that. The DREAMers should rest easy.”
Since Trump’s statement, at least two of his cabinet members (Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions) have confirmed that, at least for now, the government does not plan to target DREAMers.
DACA and DREAMers
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) grants work authorization to certain immigrant children who were brought to the United States before their sixteenth birthday. Created in 2012 by President Obama, DACA applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria and pass a background check.
The program allows young immigrants to work legally and provides some protection against deportation. DACA participants are frequently called “DREAMers,” after the failed DREAM Act (which would have granted some young immigrants legal status in the U.S.). About 800,000 people who work and study in the U.S. are covered by DACA.
Unfortunately, the government can cancel the DACA program at any time. And, there has been serious concern that President Trump (who promised to tighten immigration rules and increase deportations during his campaign) will terminate DACA.
Are Trump DREAMers Safe From Deportation?
While the most recent DACA news does not shed a lot of light on the future of the Trump DREAMers, it is somewhat encouraging. Thus far, the Trump administration has not indicated that they plan to cancel DACA or intentionally target DREAMers. However, two recent immigration cases may contradict Mr. Trump’s statements.
Juan Manuel Montes was deported from the United States after he was found trying to enter the United States by climbing a border fence. At the time of his deportation, Mr. Montes had valid DACA status. However, DACA participants cannot leave the country without pre-approval. His attorneys assert that he had been deported two days earlier, and was attempting to return home. Initially, the Department of Homeland Security argued that Mr. Montes had failed to renew his DACA status. When this was shown to be untrue, DHS argued that his behavior had invalidated his DACA status. Mr. Montes’ case is currently pending before Judge Gonzalo Curiel.
Another DREAMer, Daniel Ramirez Medina, is currently facing deportation. The government alleges Mr. Medina has gang affiliations, something he strongly denies.
At this time it is unclear how the Trump administration will treat other DACA holders and immigrants. One thing is clear, the Trump administration will look for any way to terminate a DACA holder’s status. If a DACA holder is charged with a crime, even DUI, it is imperative he or she speaks to qualified immigration attorney who is familiar with criminal defense. We will continue to monitor President Trump’s immigration policies and will report additional DACA news as it develops.
DREAMers Need to Understand Their Legal Rights
If you are a DREAMer, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities under DACA. If you have questions or fear deportation, contact Andres Mejer Law to speak to a New Jersey immigration lawyer you can help. All calls are confidential.