What’s next for DACA recipients as deadline approaches?

Both “Dreamers” and their employers are worried about how the wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will affect them, as a Trump administration deadline to find a deal on the immigrants approaches.

The Senate failed to pass a legislative replacement to the DACA program Thursday, leaving Congress with few legislative options and only four legislative days before President Trump’s March 5 deadline.

Recipients of the program, who were brought to the country illegally as children, won’t automatically lose their benefits after March 5.

{mosads}In fact, because of two court injunctions in California and New York, existing beneficiaries are allowed to apply to renew their two-year DACA permit, which shields them from deportation and allows them to work or go to school in the U.S. 

The Supreme Court did not say after its conference Friday whether it would hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from winding down the Obama-era program. A decision on whether to grant or deny the case could come as soon as Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this week he still wants to pass legislation on DACA in March, but minimized the importance of the deadline Trump set when he canceled the program in September.

“We think this deadline’s an important deadline. Obviously, with the court ruling it’s not as important as it was before,” Ryan said.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA, there were 689,800 registered recipients, according to DHS. 

Under the terms of the memo ending DACA, only beneficiaries whose two-year permit ended before March 6 were allowed to reapply; those whose permit ended March 6 and onward were allowed to use up the remainder of their permit, but not to apply for an extension. 

The latter group made up the bulk of the DACA population — 535,600 beneficiaries were not allowed to renew their status after Sessions’ announcement.

Had the courts not enjoined Trump’s order, DACA protections would start to run out for recipients. In March, around 13,000 people would lose benefits, then 4,500 in April, 14,000 in May. That would continue until the last recipients lost their protections in September 2019, according to DHS. 

Now all recipients are allowed to reapply. But activist groups have expressed concern that DHS may not have the resources to handle all of the applications, leaving gaps in DACA protections for some recipients.

Recipients with a gap between one DACA permit and another would lose their jobs — at least temporarily — and be subject to deportation.

The memo also rescinded DACA recipients’ right to advanced parole, a feature of the program that allowed beneficiaries to travel internationally and return to the United States. Until a replacement is legislated, DACA recipients who had not applied for advanced parole before Sept. 5 cannot leave the country and come back. 

And an unknown number of Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as minors — would have aged into the program had it not been rescinded. 

Some of those potential beneficiaries were covered by the proposals rejected by the Senate this week, but are not protected by the court injunctions. 

If the injunctions were lifted without legislation to replace DACA in place, Dreamers would lose their benefits. That would bring high costs to their employers and local economies, according to research by New American Economy (NAE), a coalition of business leaders and mayors launched by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

According to NAE, businesses would incur $1,769,400 in daily restaffing costs if DACA ends without being replaced. The program’s end would also mean a loss of local, state and federal taxes, and $339,864 in spending power lost every week.

“Right now, as more Dreamers lose status and American companies feel the economic pinch, it’s imperative the Senate get back to the drawing board and find a path to 60 votes,” said John Feinblatt, president of NAE.

— Lydia Wheeler contributed.

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Paul Ryan

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