Trump Backs Off Promise to Terminate DACA, but Cancels Its Expansion and DAPA

The Trump Administration will keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place for the time being, but has rescinded a memo from then-President Obama that was to expand DACA and create the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made this announcement on June 15, 2017, immediately following President Trump’s signing of a memo to rescind DAPA and the expanded version of DAPA.

Background on DACA and DAPA

The DACA program, which was created by President Obama through executive action on June 15, 2012, allows qualifying undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children, to obtain two-year deferrals of removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings, and to obtain work authorization. DACA has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from removal since its inception. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website includes helpful information regarding the requirements to qualify for the DACA program.

In 2014, President Obama issued a memo that was to expand eligibility for DACA and to create DAPA, which would provide immigration relief to qualifying undocumented foreign nationals who have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child. Before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began accepting applications under this memo, however, a U.S. federal district court blocked its implementation. Although the case technically is still pending, the rescission of the 2014 executive order effectively serves to make the case moot.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump repeatedly pledged to immediately terminate DACA and DAPA if he became President. Since taking office, however, President Trump’s stance on the DACA program has wavered.

New DHS Guidance on DACA

Although Trump promised to immediately terminate the DACA program once assuming office, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance on June 15, 2017 stating that recipients of DACA will continue to be eligible for two-year extensions of their status. The guidance also states that employment authorization documents for these beneficiaries will not be terminated prior to their expiration dates. When questioned on this topic, a spokesperson for the DHS stated, in somewhat cryptic fashion, that despite the continuing eligibility for DACA recipients, the program continues to be under review by the current Administration.


The Trump Administration has made immigration enforcement one of its top priorities, including the removal of undocumented immigrants. Federal agencies have expanded the number of undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deportation and outlined other increased enforcement efforts. At least for now, however, it appears that those enrolled in DACA will be permitted to continue living and working in the United States.


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