A Guide to Understanding Your Rights Under the DACA Program


It feels like since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has been playing Russian roulette with the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, it has intensified greatly in the past couple of days and that’s because of the Sept. 5th deadline. That is the day that 10 state attorneys general gave the president to decide what he was going to do about DACA. They gave him an ultimatum that basically stated, either end DACA or they’d sue the administration. The reason is because of a looming case that stems back to 2014 that was filed in Brownsville that challenged the DACA program. All of this means is that Republican lawmakers (spearheaded by Texas) wants DACA to end.

There’s one theory as to why Trump hasn’t decided what to do is because of Hurricane Harvey. The administration is supposedly busy at working on the recovery that they might have enough on their hands. Who knows, really. The main issue is how DACA recipients are dealing with this back-and-forth period.

If you’re one of the 800,000 people that benefits from DACA, here’s what you should know. First off, nothing has been decided. The White House should be aware that ending DACA now, would be catastrophic, especially during Harvey recovery. But either way, you do have rights.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has released a set of instructions, here’s a summary:

Work Permits

Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), also known as work permits, are generally valid until they expire or the government demands they be returned. Unless the government demands that you return your work permit, the following points should apply:

  • If the DACA program ends but you are allowed to keep your work permit, you have the right to work legally until your work permit’s expiration date.
  • Even if the DACA program ends, you have no obligation to inform your employer that DACA has ended.
  • Your employer does not have the right to ask you whether you are a DACA recipient or how you got your work permit. Your employer does not have the right to fire you, put you on leave, or change your work status until after your work permit has expired. If your expiration date is nearing, your employer may ask you for an updated work permit but cannot take any action against you until after it is expired.
  • For more information about your rights as an employee see this advisory by the National Immigration Law Center.

Social Security Numbers (SSNs)

Your SSN is a valid SSN number for life, even once your work permit and DACA approval expires.

  • If you have not done so already, apply for a SSN while your DACA and work permit are still valid.
  • You can and should continue to use the SSN you got under DACA as your SSN even after your work permit expires. You can use your SSN for education, banking, housing and other purposes.
  • Your SSN contains a condition on it that requires a valid work permit to use it for employment purposes.

Driver’s Licenses and Other Identification Cards

Eligibility for these depends on the state in which you live. If you have not already done so, apply for a driver’s license or state identification card if your DACA is still valid and that makes you eligible for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card in your state.

To read more about your rights in a different language, please click here.

And remember, DACA is a constitutional right, and as the ACLU has said, anytime DACA has been challenged in court it has failed.

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