What DACA’s termination means for nation, Minnesota

The Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will affect over 6,000 people in Minnesota.

Protesters march against the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy on Sept. 5 on East Franklin Avenue.

Carter Blochwitz

Protesters march against the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy on Sept. 5 on East Franklin Avenue.

by Kevin Beckman

Fulfilling a divisive Trump campaign promise, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the end of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

In a statement released Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said phasing out DACA will be a “gradual [six-month] process.” 

Former President Barack Obama enacted the policy in June 2012 with an executive order. The order gave work permits, social security numbers and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants between the ages of 15 and 36. In Minnesota, over 6,000 people are DACA recipients.

The decision spurred hundreds to protest in Minneapolis Tuesday, with others throughout the nation. 

President Kaler responds

In a statement, University President Eric Kaler said he was disappointed with the decision and vowed support for all University students, regardless of documentation status in an all-campus email Tuesday morning. 

“Our students who enrolled in DACA are valued members of our University community,” Kaler’s statement said. “Many DACA students have called Minnesota home for most of their lives. As a system, we will do everything possible under law to support them in the face of today’s decision.” 

The Minnesota Dream Act, which lets undocumented students apply for state financial aid, is still official policy at the University, Kaler’s statement said. 

UMN Immigration Response Team readies for the road ahead 

Marissa Hill-Dongre, director of the University’s Immigration Response Team, said the IRT had preemptively prepared for Tuesday’s announcement. She urged students with DACA status to reach out to the IRT, which will tailor its responses on a case-by-case basis.

Hill-Dongre said the team has already received several calls from concerned students asking for help.

“I’m still sifting through the messages,” she said. “People are very much still processing [the] news.”

In March, Kaler launched the IRT in response to immigration bans by President Trump.

Why is DACA being rescinded?

The decision to rescind DACA comes after Trump campaigned on its immediate termination, and several states threatened a lawsuit against the program.

On June 29, 2017, Texas and several other states sent a letter to Sessions claiming the 2012 implementation of DACA was unlawful.

Sessions sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Sept. 4, 2017 saying DACA was enacted unconstitutionally by the Obama administration.

Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of DHS said in a memo that she is terminating DACA for these reasons.

What does the decision mean?

If Congress does not pass a law addressing DACA soon, those with DACA status won’t be able to work legally in the U.S. and won’t be able to get a driver’s license, Hill-Dongre said.

New applications for work permits will not be accepted, but existing work permits will be honored until their expiration date, up to two full years from Tuesday, Trump’s statement said.

Additionally, existing permits will remain active anywhere from six months to 24 months, depending on their DACA acceptance date, the statement continued.

Pending DACA requests filed by Sept. 5, 2017 will still be considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on a case-by-case basis, according to the DHS website. The same is true for those with pending DACA renewals.

How many will be affected nationally?

As of Aug. 20, 2017, there were 106,341 DACA requests pending nationally. Of those, 34,487 were initial requests and 71,854 were renewals. 

Through December 2017, 201,678 people are set to have their DACA status expire. Additionally, 275,344 DACA recipients permits will expire in 2018 and 321,920 will expire in 2019.

How many Minnesotans will be affected?

The federal government has received 6,930 DACA applications from Minnesota as of March 31, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan immigration think tank. Of these, 6,255 have been approved, according to USCIS data. 

As a whole, Minnesota has 16,000 DACA-eligible people, according to data collected from 2009-13 by the Migration Policy Institute.

In a letter to U.S. Congressional leaders, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton urged federal legislators to take action and pass legislation that will help those subject to DACA stay in the country before the program fully expires March 5, 2018.

“Rescinding DACA will not only put these young people in limbo, it will also harm businesses in our state who have hired, trained and invested in them,” the letter said. It was signed by governors from 10 other states.

What happens now?

USCIS will not share information of people whose DACA status has expired with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unless that person “poses a risk to national security or public safety,” the DHS website said.  

On Wednesday, 15 states and the District of Columbia brought a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. The lawsuit seeks to contest the policy’s termination on racial bias and that removing tax-paying DACA-recipients will harm states.  

Trump called for Congress to act and devise new legislation for undocumented residents within six months.