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DACA: What Now, and Other FAQs

A federal officer watches as DACA supporters protest outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be suspended with a six-month delay, in Phoenix, Sept. 5, 2017.

The Trump administration has announced a phasing out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Here is what it means for the young people who have been working and attending school under DACA.

Why is DACA being terminated?

DACA was created by the administration of President Barack Obama five years ago. There have always been questions about the program's legality. But in June, a group of 10 Republican state officials wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, threatening to take the program to court unless the administration terminated it by early September. The move forced the president to act.

"As a result of recent litigation, we were faced with two options: Wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation; or allow the judiciary to potentially shut the program down completely and immediately. We chose the least disruptive option," said Acting Homeland Security chief Elaine Duke.

Who are DACA recipients?

DACA recipients are undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. One study shows they had an average age of six when they were brought to the U.S. There are almost 800,000 DACA recipients in the program. A million more young people are eligible, but have not signed up.

What does this mean for DACA recipients?

Nothing for six months. Anyone whose DACA permit and employment authorization documents expire before March 5, 2018, will be allowed to renew for two years.

What about first-time DACA applicants?

The Department of Homeland Security will review applications submitted before September 5 on a case-by-case basis, but no new applications will be accepted. The department said it was applying individual scrutiny to the applications "due to the anticipated costs and administrative burdens associated with rejecting all pending renewal requests."

What happens to DACA recipients who have filed renewals for their two-year permits?

Again, DHS says it will review them on an individual basis, but those renewal requests are unlikely to be approved. Only those renewals for the period between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, will be seriously considered, and then, only if they were filed before October 5.

What happens when DACA status expires over the course of the next two years?

DACA recipients once again become undocumented immigrants. They will no longer be able to work or have driver's licenses. And they will be subject to deportation.

Once an individual's DACA expires, will he/she be deported?

DHS says immigration agents will continue to target for deportation individuals who have committed crimes, and not former DACA recipients who are not criminals. The department also says that information provided to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the DACA application process will not be provided to immigration agents.

Will DACA recipients still be able to travel outside of the United States?

No. USCIS no longer will approve any applications for travel and all current applications will be closed. Those who already have approvals will be allowed to travel until the benefit expires.

How will the program wind down?

From August through December 2017, 201,678 individuals are set to have their DACA status expire. 55,258 have submitted requests for renewal to USCIS, and more could do so before the October 5 deadline.

In calendar year 2018, 275,344 will have their DACA status expire. From January through August 2019, 321,920 DACA permits will expire.

By March 2020, there should be no more DACA recipients unless Congress acts.