March 5 used to be the day the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was supposed to sunset, after the Trump administration canceled the program last September. It was supposed to mark the start of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants losing their work permits and deportation protections.
But two court injunctions this year have blocked that, allowing young immigrants with DACA to keep renewing their status, at least until the courts rule otherwise. KPCC immigration reporter Leslie Berestein Rojas joined Take Two to talk about where DACA goes from here.
Does March 5 matter for DACA?
From a practical standpoint, it doesn't. There have been two court injunctions now, including one in California, that let people who already have DACA continue to renew their status if they're eligible to do so. March 5 was partly significant in that when President Trump rescinded DACA in September, young people whose DACA was expiring between September 5 and March 5 were given just one month to apply for a two-year renewal, one last time. But anyone whose DACA expired after March 5 was told they could not renew. That's changed with the court injunctions. Anyone who is eligible to renew their DACA status can keep doing so. The only thing is that new applications won't be taken. But for those who have DACA already, the program is supposed to stay in place until the courts make a decision on it.
When courts might make a DACA decision
As we saw last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear an expedited appeal from the Trump administration. The administration was hoping to bypass the Ninth Circuit court in California as it appealed the first injunction. But the high court says they're going to have to go through the Ninth Circuit, and this could take months. If the Ninth Circuit and the Second Circuit – that's where the second injunction will be appealed – appeals courts rule on behalf of the administration, then the program could come to a halt. But if they don't, the administration will likely appeal once more to the Supreme Court. And a decision there likely wouldn't happen until next year.
Does the March 5 deadline matter in other ways
It matters symbolically to a degree, and also because there's a lot of confusion out there. DACA has been a moving target, as we know. It's hard enough for us to keep up with the developments. Immigrant advocates worry that not everyone knows that they can renew their status now. They also worry that because everything is so uncertain, some DACA recipients won't want to stick their necks out.
Where Congress stands with DACA
When President Trump canceled DACA in September, he said Congress should come up with a more permanent plan by then. But then he threw in all these conditions – money for a border wall, big cuts to legal immigration – which he wanted in return for legal status for DACA recipients. Congress wasn't able to come up with any kind of compromise. Four bills were voted on in the Senate last month, and nothing made it out. There were also some attempts to tie a DACA solution to spending bills, but that didn't happen either.