SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA, will be temporary, according to the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
In an interview with NPR on Wednesday, DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli called the changes “interim guidance” and said they were within the legal authority of the DHS.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the DACA program would reject all new DACA applications for youth who are now eligible for the program, reject new and pending requests for advanced parole, and limit the renewal protection period to one year. The previous policy protected DACA recipients for two years at a time.
The changes were a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in June that said the Trump administration did not follow rule-making procedures when trying to end the program. The ruling left the current DACA policy in place, for now.
Adrian Escarate, a DACA recipient, said it has been hard enough living life two years at a time.
“It’s hard to buy a car, own a house… or live a ‘normal’ free life,” Escarate said.
Escarate, who came to the U.S. from Chile with his parents when he was 3, had his DACA renewal processed earlier this year. He will not have to renew until 2022.
The new changes mean thousands of so-called Dreamers must now spend $495 every year to renew their DACA status, not including attorney’s fees. Attorney across the country are also calling young people who have become eligible to apply due to their age, that no new applications are being accepted.
“I think that's the population that I feel most sorry for,” Escarate said. “It’s a punch to the gut. We saw what happened after the SCOTUS decision. From that moment, USCIS and DHS had not been processing any applications.”
Escarate hopes the changes are challenged in court. The 31-year-old graduated with his Master’s Degree from St. Thomas University in Florida last year under the DACA program. He now works as the Communications Coordinator for the non-profit group Define American.
“Congress needs to step up and pass permanent legislation so we don’t have to keep fighting for our dignity and our life here,” he said. “We have to keep fighting for this program and the undocumented community.”
It’s unclear how long the temporary changes to the DACA program will remain in place or whether the Trump administration will try again to fully rescind the program.