They have to put their lives on hold for six months — and their hopes in Congress.
President Donald Trump is ending a program that allowed many unauthorized immigrants to work and live in the US — the most aggressive move of his immigration crackdown so far, and a decision that will ultimately put nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the US as children or young teenagers at risk of deportation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the government will stop granting protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012.
According to an official Department of Homeland Security memo, people who have already applied for DACA protection will have their applications processed normally, but the government won’t accept any new applications after Tuesday.
Those currently covered under the program — which grants protections for two years — will be able to retain their protections and work permits until they expire.
If their DACA protections are set to expire before March 5, they will have a month — until October 5 — to apply for one last renewal. And those who are set to lose their protections on March 6 or later will simply fall back into unauthorized status.
The catch: All of this will happen only if Congress fails to pass a bill in the next six months that protects DACA recipients, either by continuing to offer them temporary protection or granting them a path to legalization.
The end of DACA, in one chart
The luckiest immigrants will be protected through 2020. The least lucky will become vulnerable to deportation in March — or earlier.