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Trump’s Plan to Dump DACA: What the End of Obama’s Deferred Action for Immigrant Childhood Arrivals Means for Employers.

The Trump Administration recently announced its plan to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. The program, put into effect in 2012, provides protection from deportation to those illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before 2007, who were under 15 years old at the time they came, and were younger than 31 years old in 2012.  The program’s premise is to protect children who grew up in the U.S. but who were brought here illegally.  Without DACA, these children could face deportation due to a choice their parents made for them.

To receive DACA protection, these immigrants who entered the U.S. as children must be enrolled in high school or have a high school degree of some sort, and have no criminal record. Once approved, an immigrant enjoys protection from deportation and an authorization to work in the U.S. for two years, which can be renewed for additional years.

Approximately 800,000 immigrants have been granted protection by DACA, and pro-immigration reform group FWD.us recently reported 91 percent of those protected are employed. The end of the program would mean roughly 30,000 people would lose their work permits every month as they expire.

Some notes for employers:

The DACA program will effectively end on March 5, 2018 unless Congress takes action to prevent its demise.

  • Your employees’ work permits will be honored until they expire.
  • Employees are no longer able to apply for a new DACA permit. The Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting new applications when the Administration announced its plans to end the program on September 5, 2017. 
  • Employees are no longer able to request a renewal of their DACA permit. The Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting requests for renewal on October 5, 2017.
  • Once employees’ work authorization permits expire, they must stop working.

It is estimated that if DACA ends, it will cost billions of dollars to replace lost employees. The program is not slated to end until March 5, 2018, so it is still possible Congress will take its own action to allow these individuals to remain employed. For now, employers should stay informed about the status of their workers’ permits and create a plan of action should DACA protections cease next year. However, no actions should be taken to replace DACA workers until their permits expire. Such anticipatory action is likely illegal. Stay tuned.

 Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.