Employers and immigration advocates marked the 10th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Wednesday by urging political leaders to take action to protect the program.

The Obama administration created DACA on June 15, 2012, shielding hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” (immigrants who were brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children) from deportation and allowing them to apply for work authorization.

“As employers and business associations committed to a strong U.S. economy, we highly value the contributions of Dreamers in our workforces and communities and reiterate the urgent need to provide them with long-term certainty and stability in the only country they know as ‘home,’” said the National Immigration Forum in a letter to congressional leaders. The letter was signed by leading U.S. employers, business associations and immigration groups, including BAL.

Despite its broad popularity and importance to employers, DACA remains under threat. In July 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not follow proper procedures when establishing the program. The Justice Department appealed the ruling, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case on July 6.

White House officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, were scheduled to meet with a group of 20 Dreamers Wednesday to discuss DACA. The Biden administration has pledged to “preserve and fortify” DACA through the regulatory process. In September, DHS published a proposed DACA regulation that drew more than 16,000 comments last fall. DHS is expected to finalize the regulation in the coming months, though litigation challenging a final regulation is likely.

DACA proponents have long said that the only permanent solution for Dreamers is legislation. Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement Wednesday that it is “long past time to enact commonsense immigration reforms” including a “permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients, who were brought here as minors and now live in limbo under the temporary DACA program.”

The Coalition for the American Dream said it is “inexcusable” that Congress has not acted to end the “legal limbo” in which DACA recipients find themselves.

“Dreamers are critical members of our workforce, industries, and communities, and they have abided by the laws and regulations of our country where they have lived almost their entire lives,” the Coalition said. “The thousands of Americans businesses represented by the Coalition for the American Dream are proud to employ many of them and we are equally proud to have watched many Dreamers start their own businesses as they contribute greatly to the American economy.”

BAL Analysis: In the 10 years since it was created, DACA has shielded hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries from deportation and allowed them to work lawfully in the U.S. DACA recipients play a key role in the American workforce, and employers have repeatedly stressed the importance of protecting the program and providing long-term relief for Dreamers. BAL continues to monitor developments related to DACA and will provide updates as information becomes available. For more information, please visit BAL’s DACA Resource Center here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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