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On Sept. 5, 2017 President Trump announced that his administration would take steps to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was created by the Obama administration in June 2012. On June 18, 2020 the Supreme Court ruled that its attempt was impermissible. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) then announced on July 28, 2020 that it was taking steps to significantly downsize and restrict the DACA program as agency personnel "thoughtfully consider the future of the DACA policy, including whether to fully rescind the program." On November 14, 2020 a federal judge ruled that the changes announced on July 28 were also impermissible.

Because these changes come near the end of the Trump administration, it is unlikely that the current federal government will have sufficient time to challenge this decision before the transition into the administration of President-elect Joe Biden in January 2021. President-elect Biden helped craft the DACA program while serving as Vice President of the Obama administration, and is expected to both undo many program changes made by the Trump administration and work towards creating greater legal protections for DACA recipients.

DACA makes it possible for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children under the age of 16 to obtain deferred deportation, work permits, Social Security cards, and drivers’ licenses. Over 200,000 DACA recipients are currently enrolled in a college or university. 

DACA eligibility is only made available to individuals who meet the following requirements:

  • Arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16
  • Have resided in the U.S. continuously since 2012
  • Are enrolled in or have completed high school 
  • Have not been convicted of a serious crime (felonies or significant misdemeanors) 

DACA News and Resources 

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York Opinion: (November 14, 2020) This ruling invalidates the July 2020 changes ordered by DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf because Wolf was never confirmed by the Senate to serve in his position. The ruling finds that, “DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated…the actions taken by purported Acting Secretaries, who were not properly in their roles according to the lawful order of succession, were taken without legal authority.” 

USCIS Updated Guidance: (August 24, 2020) The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated its DACA guidance to be consistent with the July 28, 2020 DHS memo that significantly downsizes and restricts the DACA program. Consistent with the orders spelled out in the memo, USCIS will not accept any new DACA applications and will limit future approvable DACA renewal requests for grants of deferred action and employment authorization to no more than one year, among other changes.

DHS DACA Restrictions: (July 28, 2020) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will significantly downsize and restrict the DACA program as it considers further attempts to eliminate it entirely. DHS will not process any new requests for DACA status, reject new and pending requests for advanced parole absent exceptional circumstances, and limit the period of renewed deferred action granted pursuant to the DACA policy to one year.

Supreme Court Opinion: (June 18, 2020) The Supreme Court ruled that the framework of the Trump Administration's attempt to eliminate the DACA program failed to heed procedural requirements dictated by the Administrative Procedure Act. The decision, while protecting Dreamers in the short term, does not preclude future attempts to eliminate DACA. 

Remember the Dreamers Resource Website: (May 2020) The higher education community has joined together to create this website as a resource for colleges, universities, and DACA recipients. The website advocates for a permanent legislative solution to allow these individuals to remain in the country and illustrates their importance to the U.S. economy and global leadership. The website is routinely updated with factsheets, news articles, and personal stories from DACA recipients. 

Higher Education DACA Amicus Curiae Brief: (October 4, 2019) NACUBO and 43 other higher education organizations submitted a joint amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the case brought against the Department of Homeland Security by the University of California system over its recission of the DACA program. The brief argues that the recission of DACA will inflict harms not just on impacted DACA recipients, but also on colleges, universities, and the country as a whole. 

DACA Elimination Timeline: An outline of major actions taken from DACA's creation to its proposed elimination and subsequent congressional and judicial action. 

Protect Dreamers Higher Education CoalitionA coalition of higher education associations working together to encourage Congress to pass bipartisan legislation as soon as possible that will include all the protections currently provided under DACA and allow DACA recipients to continue contributing to our society and economy by working, serving in the military or attending college.

Select NACUBO Coverage 

DHS Announces Sweeping DACA Changes (July 28, 2020)  

DHS Ordered to Review New DACA Applications (July 22, 2020)  

Supreme Court Upholds DACA Program (June 18, 2020)  

DACA Questions Loom as DOJ Seeks Supreme Court Review (January 18, 2018)

Trump Administration Announces End to DACA (September 5, 2017)

Business Officer Magazine: DACA Decision Leaves Students Vulnerable (December 2017)


Megan Schneider

Senior Director, Government Affairs


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