TO be honest, no ones sure. As we know President Elect Trump wants to enforce the laws on the books and possibly deport millions of “criminal aliens”
Clients have been asking what they should do. I assume everyone should hope he keeps the DACA program going for those who have it, but only Mr. Trump and his advisors know the future
Risk of Enforcement Action
Because DACA was created through executive action in the form of a policy memorandum, there are no statutory or regulatory confidentiality provisions that completely protect the information applicants provided to DHS from being used for enforcement purposes. According to DACA FAQ #19:
Will the information I share in my request for consideration of DACA be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
Information provided in [a] request is protected from disclosure to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’s Notice to Appear
guidance (www.uscis.gov/NTA). Individuals whose cases are deferred pursuant to DACA will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of DACA, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense. The above information sharing policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to the requestor. This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
What we do know is that information pertaining to individuals who have been granted DACA is already known to the government. Therefore, it does not appear that individuals seeking to renew their DACA benefits would incur additional risks by submitting a renewal application. On the other hand, the submission of a new initial application at this time would require the individual to disclose their personal information to DHS and could increase their exposure to any potential enforcement actions the new administration decides to take.
Cost and Processing Times
According to USCIS, initial DACA applications are taking more than 9 months to adjudicate. Thus, if a client decides to file an initial DACA application today, it will not be processed before President-elect Trump takes office on Friday, January 20, 2017. Renewal applications are being processed more quickly, so applications submitted soon may have a chance of being adjudicated before Trump takes any actions to roll back DACA. But the bottom line is that there is no guarantee that any application will be processed timely which means there is a chance that an application fee will be wasted if DACA is rescinded before an application has been processed.
In light of the above considerations, some organizations are advising people to refrain from applying for initial DACA benefits for now, while suggesting that individuals may consider still filing to renew existing DACA benefits. Again, this is a decision you will need to make in consultation with your client and may depend on the individual circumstances in each case.