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On January 20, 2021 President Biden directed the secretary of Homeland Security to take actions aimed at "preserving and fortifying" the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. This action is in direct contrast with the previous administration, which had been attempting to eliminate DACA since 2017.

The president has also sent a proposed immigration bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act, to Congress. If passed, the bill would allow DACA recipients to immediately apply for permanent residency. Undocumented students who are not DACA recipients would be permitted to apply for temporary legal status if the bill passes, and could apply for permanent resident status after five years, pending background security checks and payment of their taxes.

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 

Executive Order: (January 20, 2021) President Biden's Executive Order, "Preserving and Fortifying DACA," which directs the secretary of Homeland Security to, "take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA." 

USCIS Updated Guidance: (December 9, 2020) In compliance with a federal court order, the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that it has fully restored DACA to its original operating procedures. While the agency notes it, "may seek relief from the order" the limited time remaining in the Trump administration leaves little time for additional legal challenges.  

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.” 

DHS DACA Restrictions: (July 28, 2020) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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 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. 

Select NACUBO Coverage 

DACA Fully Restored at Court's Urging (December 10, 2020) 

Court Halts Sweeping DACA Changes (November 19, 2020)  

DHS Announces Sweeping DACA Changes (July 28, 2020)  

Supreme Court Upholds DACA Program (June 18, 2020)  

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


Megan Schneider

Senior Director, Government Affairs


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