Homeland Security said Wednesday that illegal immigrants who have applied for the DACA deportation amnesty won’t be deported even if their status lapsed during President Trump’s attempted phaseout.
Department spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said they are complying with two court orders and accepting renewal applications from any of the 800,000 people who’d been previously approved for the program. That includes tens of thousands of people whose protections were slated to expire over the next few months — as long as they filed requests for renewal.
“DHS has repeatedly stated that, absent additional negative factors, DACA recipients are not a priority or target group for arrest or removal,” Mr. Houlton said.
He said there are some exceptions, such as those who amass criminal records, but “an individual who is a current DACA recipient, or who was a previous DACA recipient but has filed for renewal, will not be targeted for arrest nor will be removed from the United States while the individual has DACA protections or while the DACA renewal request is pending.”
The situation surrounding DACA, the Obama-era program designed to give illegal immigrant “Dreamers” a foothold in the U.S., has grown complicated.
Facing a legal challenge, Mr. Trump last September announced a six-month phaseout, giving Congress a chance to come up with a more permanent solution. Lawmakers failed, and the March 5 deadline came and went this week.
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But federal courts stepped in, issuing conflicting rulings. While one judge upheld the phaseout, two others ruled it was illegal, and ordered the administration to keep the program running — but just for renewals of current enrollees.
All told, more than 800,000 people have been approved under DACA, though as of Jan. 31 there were 683,000 people with current protections. The others either let their status lapse, gained another more permanent status, or — in the case of more than 2,000 — were kicked off the program because of criminal or other suspect behavior.
Mr. Houlton warned the public that others will lose their status in coming months because of criminal conduct, and said that doesn’t mean all DACA recipients are being targeted for deportation.