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DACA’s Possible Severance from Employment Authorization

Posted by Hugo Valverde | May 06, 2022 | 0 Comments

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients have been through a lot of shifts in the last few years. Roughly 620,000 Dreamers have gone through a yo-yo of high expectations and broken promises with multiple opposing view court rulings in the last five years. 

Now another change is poised to likely take place. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the Biden Administration, published a proposed rule in order to “fortify DHS's DACA policy” in the midst of so many different court rulings. While still not a permanent solution, it is meant to be a stop gap because of Congress's continued inaction with DACA. 

While filled with good intentions, this stop gap proposal has received criticism from DACA advocates for two reasons:

  • It doesn't expand DACA eligibility.
    • There are approximately 620,000 K-12 children in the U.S. who were too young to qualify for the original DACA program, but are in need of legal status. Rather than including the next generation of Dreamers, the DHS proposed rule only aims to protect those who met the original DACA criteria - which means those eligible must have (among other things): entered the U.S. before the age of 16, continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of filing.
  • It separates DACA applications from work authorization applications - making an EAD (employment authorization document) optional. 
    • Under the original 2012 DACA, applicants were required to simultaneously apply for DACA and for a work permit. One of the main viewpoints of DACA is that recipients should be able to legally work in the U.S. The proposed rule from DHS severs that attachment and makes applying for employment authorization optional. The government argues that this severance could save some DACA recipients, such as full-time students, money by not requiring them to file an EAD application (a $495 fee), but advocates of DACA warn that severing work authorization applications from DACA applications will likely lead to DACA recipients getting caught in USCIS's bureaucratic backlogs. Last year a class action lawsuit was filed against USCIS amid exorbitant wait times for an EAD card, often taking longer than one year to receive. Revising DACA so that Dreamers get stuck in that backlog would be a mistake. 

While we recognize the need for the Biden Administration to do something to help DACA recipients, this proposed rule is not a permanent solution. Please reach out to your legislators on both sides of the aisle to tell them how important it is for Congress to pass permanent protection for DACA recipients! You can contact Virginia Senator Mark Warner here, and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine here

If you have questions about your DACA status or need help filing a renewal please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

About the Author

Hugo Valverde

Hugo's passion for immigration law stems from his own family's immigration experience. His father and mother came to the United States from Peru fleeing political persecution, and as he grew up, Hugo spent many summers in Peru. Hugo uses his experience growing up in an immigrant family and time a...


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