DACA: What Employers Should Know

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established by an Executive Order of President Obama. The purpose of the program was to provide temporary legal status and work authorization to undocumented people who initially entered the United States as children. To qualify for the program, qualified individuals had to submit to extensive background checks and had to pay income taxes.

In 2014 President Obama tried, unsuccessfully, to expand the program, but the initial program continued to provide employment authorization and renewals to 750,000 registered young adults

At the beginning of his presidency, President Trump vowed to abolish DACA completely, but he later expressed his intent to “work something out” for registrants who would lose their otherwise valid employment authorization and protection from deportation if the program is not continued or replaced. Many registrants are currently employed or enrolled in educational programs and are contributing to the workforce and economy. Deporting these registrants who came to the U.S. as young children might send them back to places that they never knew as home.

On September 5, President Trump announced that the program will be phased out over the next six months (through March 5, 2018).

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer accepting new requests for the DACA program. Requests that were received before September 5, 2017, will be processed. Renewal requests received before October 5, 2017, will be processed, but only for registrants whose benefits would expire before March 5, 2018. Registrants whose benefits expire after that date will lose work authorization and protection from deportation unless their status is preserved by congress, a federal court, or an executive solution

If workers’ temporary authorization expires and they are unable to present renewal paperwork or alternative authorization, employers will be forced to terminate their employment, and the individuals may become subject to deportation.

Employers should continue to treat all qualified workers consistently. They should not refuse otherwise valid employment authorization documents simply because they are temporary or because there is concern that employees may be DACA registrants whose work eligibility may expire. When provided with temporary authorizations, employer should devise a consistently applied reminder system to alert them in advance of expiration dates, leaving a reasonable amount of time for reverification.

If an employee’s employment authorization expires, the employer should reverify the worker using Section 3 of Form I-9. If the employee cannot produce extended or new employment authorization, employment should be suspended or terminated until such authorization can be provided.

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