In June 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 2017 termination of DACA was unlawful, restoring the program. Then in July 2021, the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas found that the 2012 DACA memo was unlawful and prohibited DHS from processing first-time DACA applications but temporarily allowed current DACA recipients to renew their requests.
The Present and Future of DACA
In August 2022, DHS published the DACA Final Rule, a regulation to strengthen the DACA program while it undergoes legal challenges. This rule, proposed to protect and enhance DACA, considered more than 16,000 comments received during a public comment period. The rule affirms that current DACA recipients’ deferred action, employment authorization, and advance parole — allowing them to travel outside the US— continue to be valid; maintains that DACA recipients are considered “lawfully present”; and upholds the DACA application process and eligibility criteria.
In October 2022, the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas extended its 2021 ban and partial stay to the DACA Final Rule, meaning that first-time DACA applications, including individuals whose DACA lapsed for more than one year, will not be processed. However, current recipients can maintain their receipt of DACA and renew their grants and accompanying authorizations. The District Court is currently considering the legality of the DHS DACA Final Rule.
A Problem for Health Coverage and Other Benefits
While DACA recipients pay taxes and are considered “lawfully present” in the US, they have historically been ineligible for federally funded health coverage, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance Marketplaces. This has resulted in higher uninsured rates among DACA recipients.