NAICU Washington Update

Homeland Security Announces Final Rule on DACA

September 02, 2022

In a move intended to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule implementing the agency’s proposed regulations. 

The final rule, effective October 31, 2022, maintains the current DACA program and threshold criteria for applicants.  In a change from the rules DHS proposed last year, the final rule retains the work authorization requirement for DACA applicants.  Decoupling the work requirement was a concern for many, including the higher education community.  The final rule does not provide lawful status but allows participants to be considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes.

While the rules proposed last year were also intended to strengthen the program, DHS acknowledged that Congress ultimately needs to address the issue legislatively.  This final rule is largely unsubstantial and is not likely stand up to additional court injunctions.  The July 16, 2021, injunction from a U.S. district court in Texas prevents DHS from allowing new DACA applications, but it will allow renewal requests. The final rule does not change this.

NAICU joined others in the higher education community in submitting comments to DHS when the rule was initially proposed.  The comments generally reflect support for a pathway to citizenship for Dream Act-eligible individuals brought to the U.S. as children.  The higher education community, and other groups supportive of “Dreamers” and DACA participants, continue to push for Congressional action to address the immigration status of these individuals in statute.

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