Last week, the Trump Administration announced that it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was put in place by the Obama Administration in 2012. The end of this program will affect many undocumented immigrants, so employers with undocumented employees should be aware of these changes.
What Is DACA?
DACA was implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012 and it essentially gave work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The Obama Administration stated that it would not deport undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were under the age of 16 and had resided in the U.S. for at least five years before June 15, 2012. It also said that it would give these undocumented immigrants an “Employment Authorization Document” (EAD) stating that the workers would not be deported, which essentially acted as work authorization papers.
In order to receive an EAD, the undocumented immigrant needed to be under 31, enrolled in school or already have graduated, and have no criminal record. EADs were given for two year periods, and there have been roughly 800,000 DACA recipients.
Why Did the Trump Administration End DACA?
The Trump Administration stated that it is ending DACA because it believes it to be unconstitutional. Several states threatened to sue to end the program, which essentially forced the Trump Administration to end it. President Trump has, however, encouraged Congress to pass a law making DACA permanent.
What Does the End of DACA Mean for DACA Recipients?
All first-time applications to DACA submitted after Sept 5, 2017, will be rejected. First-time applicants whose DACA applications are being processed, will have their applications considered on a case-by-case basis. DACA recipients whose EAD cards will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, can apply for an extension. However, all applications must be submitted by October 5, 2017. The Trump Administration will not provide EAD cards to anyone after March 4, 2020. DACA recipients will not be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement once their EAD cards expire.
What Does the End of DACA Mean for Employers?
Employers can continue to legally employ DACA enrollees. Employers should make sure that employees whose EAD cards are expiring renew them. Employers can rely on completed I-9 forms to do this. Ultimately, employers should not treat DACA recipients any differently than other employees, assuming, of course, that they maintain valid EAD cards.
There will likely be changes to the DACA program in the upcoming months, as bipartisan support for doing so exists. Stay tuned to our blog for more information about this. Contact us if you have questions about DACA or undocumented employees.