My DACA Expired Pre-September 5, 2017; Can I Renew During the Phaseout?

What former DACA holders should know about the Trump administration phaseout and renewals.

Question

I had DACA status until the beginning of 2017, but then it expired. Ever since Donald Trump because president, I have read and heard a lot of stories about people with DACA who went to their ICE appointments and got arrested on the spot and then deported. So I figured applying to renew might just lead to me getting sent out of the United States, too.

But now I hear that some people can renew their DACA, even though the whole program is ending. I'm afraid that I missed my chance, though. Is that true?

Answer

Unfortunately, you are correct that the only people who can renew their DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status are those who either:

  • already submitted a renewal application before the government policy changed on September 5, 2017, or
  • currently hold DACA, and their status will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018.

Still, immigration attorneys haven't given up on this, and may bring lawsuits regarding the unfairness of announcing such a policy shift overnight when, in the past, DACA recipients could let their status lapse for a time before renewing.

Some attorneys even suggest trying to submit a renewal despite the applicant not being eligible. This is, however, a risky strategy that should not be attempted without the help of a reputable, highly experienced immigration attorney. (It's always an area ripe for scammers preying on immigrants, so seriously, take extra care when considering the possibility of renewing if your expiration date doesn't fall within those mentioned above.)

Perhaps the only bit of good news in all of this is that it could have been worse. The Trump administration could have ended the program and announced that everyone who had ever applied for DACA would be sought out and arrested. But the phaseout is a sign that DACA recipients are being treated a bit more mildly than Trump's early harsh rhetoric might have implied.

In fact, the policy of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remains to not share DACA applicants' personal information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) except in rare cases involving things like crimes or threats to public safety.

Also remember that DACA was never meant to be more than a stopgap measure, while we awaited action from Congress, the body that's supposed to negotiate and pass federal laws concerning matters such as immigration. Although Congress has been unable to reach any agreement for years on how to deal with people who, like yourself, were brought to the U.S. by their parents and either entered or stayed unlawfully through no action of their own, pressure is mounting on Congress to act.

In the meantime, it might be worth consulting with an immigration attorney to see whether you have qualified for any other type of immigration status, perhaps during the time you held DACA, and to find out the latest on any litigation or adjustments in policy.

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