When will 'Dreamers' be at risk of being deported?

When will 'Dreamers' be at risk of being deported?
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE gave Congress until March 5 to legislate a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently protects around 690,000 so-called Dreamers from deportation.

Under DACA, only some Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children — are protected. To qualify for the program, applicants had to be at least 15 years old, prove that they'd arrived in the country before the age of 16, been living in the country since at least June 15, 2007, and be under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012.

Other Dreamers were either too young or too old to qualify for the program.

According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 1.3 million people were eligible to apply to the program. There's no exact number of how many Dreamers — eligible or ineligible for DACA — exist, but most estimates put the number at around 3 million.

In total, DACA has at some point granted benefits to around 800,000 people. The program's beneficiaries received a renewable two-year permit to live and work in the United States, but no permanent immigration status or visa. 

ADVERTISEMENT

When Trump canceled the program in September, around 110,000 DACA recipients had left the program either by not renewing, getting a different immigration status, leaving the country or being disqualified due to criminal activity.

In all, out of the 800,000 DACA recipients, 2,130 had their benefits pulled because of criminal or gang activity, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

When Trump ended DACA in September, he gave a month for recipients whose permits expired before March 5 to file for renewal.

On March 6, DACA recipients who were not allowed to renew — meaning their permits expired after March 5 — would start losing their benefits.

That means 535,600 people would lose their permit between March and September 2019, depending on when they last enrolled. 

But a court injunction won by California in January stalled the program's wind-down, forcing the government to accept new renewals at least until courts decide whether Trump's order to end DACA was constitutional. 

Before the 9th Circuit granted that injunction, Democrats and immigration activists claimed 122 Dreamers were losing DACA benefits each day.

That's a daily average of DACA recipients who lost their status after Trump's decision because they were eligible to renew their status between September and October, but did not do so. 

Because of the injunction, previous DACA recipients can now renew their status, but potentially eligible Dreamers who have aged into the program cannot apply for benefits. 

Of the different legislative proposals to replace DACA, a conservative House bill filed by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteGoodlatte: Administration undercut law, Congress by setting refugee cap Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Va.) would protect the fewest Dreamers — only the 800,000 or so who were granted DACA. An immigration framework proposed by the White House would protect 1.8 million, and according to MPI's estimates, the DREAM Act would protect nearly 3.5 million. 

Administration officials have said Dreamers who lose status will not be a priority for deportation, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tom Homan said Thursday his agency will detain any immigrant in the country illegally who has been processed by immigration courts.

"People ask me all the time, 'So why’d you arrest the guy who’s been here 15 years and has two kids?' Because he had his due process, he got his order from the judge to leave this country. He’s gotta leave," said Homan.