What DACA recipients should know about program’s end

This article looks at what DACA recipients should know now that the initiative is coming to an end.

Recently United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) initiative would be ending, according to NBC News. DACA was an Obama-era executive order that allowed many of the children of undocumented immigrants to live and work legally in the United States without fear of deportation. With the program coming to an end, that has left the hundreds of thousands of people who are DACA recipients in a state of anxiety and uncertainty about their immigration status. Below is a look at what DACA recipients should know about the program's end and what other immigration options may be available for staying in the United States.

What does the end of DACA mean?

The decision to end DACA means that no new DACA applications will be accepted. However, those whose current work permits are set to expire before March 5, 2018 will still have the ability to apply for a two-year renewal. For those whose permit expires after that date, it will not be possible to apply for a renewal. The Trump administration has given Congress six months to come up with a more permanent solution. After that time, no new renewal applications will be processed.

Alternatives may exist

Ending DACA has, understandably, led to plenty of debate and consternation, especially for the 800,000 DACA recipients who have built their lives in the United States through the initiative. However, while this latest news is significant, it is important for DACA recipients to not panic. As the Miami Herald points out, for many DACA recipients there may be alternative ways of staying legally in the U.S. that they are not aware of. In fact, as the newspaper notes, for one-sixth of people with immigration problems there is a pathway under current law to fix those problems. However, in many cases, because the law is so complicated, many people are simply unaware that such pathways exist.

In fact, new opportunities for staying in the U.S. may have opened up in recent years either because one's own circumstances have changed or because the law itself has changed. For example, one's parents may have become U.S. citizens, which would make it easier for their children (i.e., DACA recipients) to stay in the country. Some people may also be able to apply for refugee status if the conditions in their home countries have changed.

Furthermore, some victims of domestic violence may be able to apply for permanent residency, while crime victims who assist police in the investigation and prosecution of the crime can apply for a U-visa.

Getting legal help

While the above alternatives to DACA will certainly not apply to everyone, they do highlight the fact that DACA's end does not automatically mean that all DACA recipients should now worry about deportation. It is, however, extremely important for anybody who has applied for DACA to talk to an immigration attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to look at one's situation and see if there i s a way to live, work, and/or study in the country legally and without fear of deportation.