Judge Orders DACA Renewals To Go Ahead: What Dreamers Need To Know

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On Tuesday night, Federal District Court Judge William Alsup issued an order requiring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resume accepting renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Trump administration had ordered DHS to stop accepting renewals on October 5, 2017.

The court said that the Trump administration had not followed proper procedures in terminating the DACA program and that the renewal process must be reopened and continued while the lawsuit brought by the State of California challenging the termination of DACA is making its way through the legal system.

The phones at CARECEN began lighting up this morning as young Dreamers called to find out how this order affects their lives. They wanted to know if they can renew now. I want to address their questions here.

The first thing to understand is that this order only applies to those who already have DACA. It does not apply to people who are qualified for DACA, but who never applied for it before. The judge said that the order only covers those who have been granted DACA in the past.

The actual process of DHS accepting DACA renewals will not begin until the DHS issues guidelines for renewals. The judge ordered that these guidelines must be issued in a “reasonable time.” This could take several weeks or longer. People who want to renew DACA should wait for the guidelines to be published before filing. Applications received before the guidelines are issued will likely be returned.

The order does not require DHS to issue “advanced parole” permits allowing those with DACA to take trips out of the country.

While this order is extremely welcome and demonstrates that effective advocacy by attorneys is vital to the protection of immigrant rights, it may be set aside by a higher court. The Trump administration will file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. That court has stood up to the Trump administration’s abuses repeatedly over the last ten months. The case could then go to the Supreme Court.

It is important that Dreamers avoid paying lawyers and notaries exorbitant fees before we even know the full details for renewal. When the guidelines are published, Long Island Wins will cover them. However, those planning to renew should make sure they have the money ready to file right away when the renewals open because we do not know how long the judge’s order will stand.