What Happens if Congress Fails to Act on DACA By March 5th?

As of February 23rd, 2018, the United States Congress has failed to take action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Trump Administration moved to end the DACA program in early September of last year. Since that time, March 5th has stood as an important deadline for a deal to be reached by Congress in order to provide much needed legal protections for Dreamers.

Yet, as we rapidly approach this deadline, Congress is sputtering. At this moment, it is important for DACA recipients and their family members to know exactly what the March 5th deadline actually means. Here, our Los Angeles immigration lawyers seek to provide some clarity on a deeply complicated and fast-moving issue.

DACA: What Happens on March 5th, 2018

Why March 5th Was Viewed as a Deadline

President Trump made the announcement that he was ending DACA on September 5th, 2017. As part of this announcement, the administration noted that there was going to be a six-month grace period, during which previous applicants would be allowed to renew their status. With this in mind,  March 5th, 2018 would be the date on which no more DACA renewals could be processed. In other words, a large number of people would begin losing their DACA protections on March 5th, and every day after.

Court Decisions Have Changed Things

In the intervening months since President Trump announced the end of DACA, he has repeatedly mentioned the March 5th deadline on public statements and on his Twitter account. However, this deadline no longer has quite the same meaning as it once did. This is because two different federal courts have issued injunctions, blocking President Trump from rescinding DACA. USCIS responded to these decisions by publishing a press release that included the following important line: “the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017, until further notice.”

March 5th May No Longer Be a Hard Deadline, But the Situation is Fluid

In light of the recent federal court decisions, March 5th has lost some of its meaning as a deadline. However, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty surrounding this issue. Indeed, the following  outcomes are all currently possible:

  • Congress reaches a DACA deal before March 5th;
  • The Supreme Court waits to take action, leaving the injunction that blocked President Trump’s DACA rescission in place for an indefinite amount of time, possibly many months;
  • The Supreme Court intervenes, lifting the temporary injunction and allows DACA fully to expire on or around March 5th; or
  • The Trump Administration takes additional, possibly unlawful action in an effort to bypass
  • the courts and end DACA.

It is unfortunate how much uncertainty and confusion DACA recipients and their loved ones have been forced to endure. Our leaders need to take action to give the Dreamers the clarity and full legal protections that they deserve.

Call to Action: Support DACA and The Dreamers

It is imperative that our elected representatives take action to protect the Dreamers. Time is quickly running out. At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our dedicated Los Angeles immigration attorneys are strong supporters of immigrant and immigrant communities in L.A. and throughout the country. We encourage everyone to put continued pressure on our politicians to do the right thing.