DHS Releases Regulation to Safeguard and Strengthen DACA

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced today that the Department has issued a final rule (PDF) to preserve and strengthen the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy for eligible noncitizens who arrived in the United States as children. This policy defers their removal and grants them a chance to obtain a renewable, two-year work permit. Since its establishment in 2012, DACA has allowed over 800,000 young individuals to remain in the only country many of them have ever known, alongside their families. DACA recipients contribute to various sectors, serving as doctors, nurses, teachers, members of the military, and integral parts of communities nationwide. 

“Today, we are taking another step to do everything in our power to preserve and fortify DACA, an extraordinary program that has transformed the lives of so many Dreamers,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Thanks to DACA, we have been enriched by young people who contribute so much to our communities and our country. Yet, we need Congress to pass legislation that provides an enduring solution for the young Dreamers who have known no country other than the United States as their own.” 

“DACA has transformed the lives of its recipients and has made us better and stronger as a nation,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur M. Jaddou. “USCIS is proud to play an important role in implementing the DACA final rule and is committed to ensuring DACA recipients can continue to remain a vital part of their communities and contribute to this country that is their home.” 

The final rule preserves the DACA policy outlined in the 2012 Napolitano Memorandum (PDF) and aligns with longstanding USCIS practice. It upholds the consistent judgment, maintained by the Department and three presidential administrations, that DACA recipients should not be a priority for removal. 

A result of meticulous review and addressing more than 16,000 public comments, the final rule codifies existing DACA policy with limited changes. It replaces the DACA policy guidance from the 2012 Napolitano memorandum. The final rule: 

  • Maintains the existing threshold criteria for DACA;
  • Retains the existing process for DACA requestors to seek work authorization; and
  • Affirms the longstanding policy that DACA is not a form of lawful status but that DACA recipients, like other deferred action recipients, are considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes.

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