Six months ago, when he announced he was ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Donald Trump chose March 5 as the deadline for Congress to figure out a solution to avoid deporting DACA recipients, who are also known as Dreamers. However, the program—which protects roughly 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants—remains in place for the time being after Congress failed to deliver on their promise.
Currently, negotiations have all but ceased due to the significant attention by the recent school shootings—with Congress under pressure to act on guns. Now that doesn’t mean that Dreamers are safe since things are more uncertain than ever.
Here’s a look at where things stand with DACA:
- Why DACA did not end on Monday – On January 10th, a federal judge in California ruled that the program could remain in place while legal challenges over DACA were resolved in court. U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s decision temporarily blocked President Trumps plan to terminate the program. One month later, a second federal judge—Judge Nicholas Garaufis—in New York issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration from ending DACA.
- Current DACA beneficiaries are still eligible for renewal – The second injunction, applied to current DACA recipients who were protected by the program before September 5, when Trump announced he would rescind the program. Dreamers must reapply for protected status every two years. Judge Garaufis’ ruling enabled existing DACA recipients to reapply for a new two-year extension. However, the Trump administration doesn’t have to accept new applications from people who were eligible for protection under the program but had not applied for DACA status before September 5.
- Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request – The administration asked the Supreme Court to bypass the court of appeals and reconsider the lower court rulings. But on February 26, the Supreme Court ruled that the legal fight over DACA must initially go before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in California, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is in New York.
So what’s next? Congress could still act since federal court rulings removed the deadline to take action. Now, lawmakers have more time while the fate of Dreamers plays out in the courts. But without a pressure of a looming deadline, it may be more difficult for Congress to pass a DACA bill. So for now, the long-term future for DACA recipients remains unclear.