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What You Need to Know if DACA Ends

Word DACA surrounded by group of differently colored people figures

On September 5, 2017 the Trump administration announced its intention to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which was created by President Obama via executive order in 2012. The program protects undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children from being deported from the only country they're really known as home.

The current administration has indicated it will not take any action against DACA recipients for six months. There is also the possibility that within that six-month window, Congress will take some action that is helpful to DACA recipients, though it's not currently clear what form such action might take. If you are a current DACA recipient, here's what you need to know right now.

What DACA Recipients Need to Know About Their Identifications and Work Permits

If you have a Social Security number (SSN), that number is yours for life, even if DACA expires or you no longer have a work permit. If you currently have DACA and a work permit, but for some reason don't have an SSN, apply for one immediately. It's not valid for employment unless you have a work permit, but it can still be used for banking, education, housing, and other purposes.

Work permits are officially known as Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). EADs typically remain valid until they expire, or until such time as the government demands that they be returned. This means, even if DACA ends, you have the right to continue working using your work permit until it expires or the government asks for it back.

Even if DACA does end, it's not your responsibility to inform your employer of that fact. So long as you have a valid work permit, your employer does not have the right to change your work status, fire you, or put you on leave. They also may not legally ask you if you are a DACA recipient or how you came to have a work permit. If the expiration date of your work permit is approaching, they can ask you for an updated work permit, but they cannot take action to terminate you for not having a valid work permit until your current permit expires.

Regarding other identification: while you still have DACA, you should apply for a driver's license or state identification card if you do not already have one.

Should You Travel Abroad on Advance Parole?

If you have DACA and want to travel outside of the United States for some reason, you must apply for and be granted advance parole before leaving the United States or you risk not being allowed to reenter the country. However, due to the uncertain status of the DACA program, you should strongly consider not traveling outside of the U.S. even if you have been granted advance parole. If you decide you do want to travel outside the country, speak with an immigration attorney before making travel plans to be sure you understand all the risks. As a general rule you should avoid all unnecessary travel outside the United States.

If you are currently outside of the U.S. on advance parole, you are encouraged to return as soon as possible, and especially while your advance parole and DACA are still valid.

Protecting Your Ability to Remain in the United States

Unfortunately, you can't control what this administration or the Congress will do regarding DACA in the next six months. That said, there are some steps you can take.

First and foremost, if you currently have DACA, do everything in your power to avoid being charged with a crime. Note that we didn't say "Don't commit any crimes." You don't need to be actually guilty or be convicted to be at risk: any arrest or charge, and of course a conviction, can jeopardize your DACA.

Also, consider other immigration options for remaining in the United States. It's possible that there are other avenues for you to remain in this country. Talk to a legitimate, experienced immigration attorney regarding your options. There are plenty of unscrupulous "service providers" who are more than willing to take your money, and take advantage of your concerns without providing you any real help.

Finally, know your rights, Print out a red card to present to ICE officials to preserve your right to remain silent if you are stopped or questioned.

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Categories: Immigration Law