The Trump Administration’s Continued Attacks on DACA
On July 28, 2020, the Trump Administration put in motion its latest attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In a memo from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Administration directed United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reject any new DACA applications and to limit any pending DACA renewals to one year. This move comes three years after their initial failed attempt to terminate DACA,
and barely two months after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration had violated the law in doing so.
The June 18, 2020 Supreme Court ruling was a historic and major victory for DACA recipients, their families, and their communities. On that date, the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts’ ruling that the Administration unlawfully ended the program. The Court’s decision restored the 2012 Obama Administration DACA policy in full. However, the Trump Administration stood in open defiance of the Supreme Court for weeks after its decision by refusing to accept
new DACA applicants and reinstate the provisions of the original 2012 DACA program.
Now, the Trump Administration has announced plans to move ahead on a two-step plan to permanently end the DACA program. First, it has moved to significantly reduce DACA benefits, effective immediately. Second, it has set the stage to permanently end DACA in 2021 — or potentially later this year. With the July 2020 memo, the Trump Administration is:
- Refusing to consider all first-time DACA applications
- Rejecting all applications for advanced parole except under “exceptional circumstances,” a qualification that remains undefined
- Reducing the period of time recipients will be protected by DACA to one year
Forcing DACA recipients to renew annually and refusing to accept new applications destabilizes the lives of Dreamers and effectively doubles the cost of DACA protections, rendering the program financially unobtainable for many applicants. With this Administration hell-bent on ending the DACA Program, it’s essential for institutions of higher education to recommit to the fight for permanent legal protections for DACA recipients and ensure that access to
higher education remains open to our undocumented youth and students.
The education community is a critical ally in the fight to preserve DACA and advocate for undocumented youth. Educators, school counselors, and faculty are frequently the first line of support for the approximately 14,900 DACAmented teachers and hundreds of thousands of undocumented students who are vulnerable to detention and deportation.
At the time that the Trump Administration first attempted to repeal DACA in September 2017, 95% of the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients were either working or in school, with thousands enrolled at colleges and universities across the country. For the nearly three years that we have been fighting for DACA in the courts, the number of young people enrolled in DACA has fallen below 700,000 due to a variety of circumstances — including widespread fear and misinformation about whether or not recipients can renew their DACA. Although the Trump Administration has reduced the length of DACA renewals to one year, eligible individuals who hold or have held DACA status in the past can still apply for protections. We urge all individuals to seek DACA protections if possible.
In the wake of the latest attack on DACA, it is critical that colleges and universities continue to work to ensure that undocumented students can access higher education, that they are protected on campus, and that they are able to thrive in their educational pursuits with robust support from their institutions. Below we will outline steps that colleges and universities can take to support undocumented students in this hostile political environment and as we continue to fight for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals.