New Rule on DACA One Step Forward in Dire Need for Progress

Administration can strengthen DACA, but real change must come from Congress

August 25, 2022
CONTACT: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a final rule to codify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in line with the President’s order to “preserve and fortify” DACA. The rule has been long-awaited in the face of continued legal threats to the program’s existence, most currently in the Fifth Circuit. The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration strongly endorses the necessity of strengthening the legal underpinnings of DACA, a program that provides over 600,000 people the ability to live and work in the country they know as home. DACA has persisted for over a decade but faces dire legal challenges that continue to threaten its existence. The Presidents’ Alliance continues to call for permanent legislative relief with a pathway to citizenship. 

While the Presidents’ Alliance and members called for several key updates to ease the application process and expand eligibility in comments on the proposed rule, the final rule essentially codifies the existing DACA program into regulation with minor changes. The name, eligibility criteria, application process, and cost remain the same as the current DACA program. While the proposed rule included a decoupling of protection from deportation and work permits, the final rule does not. Importantly, the freeze on the processing of initial applications is still active by court order—the new rule does not open applications to new applicants. The regulation goes into effect starting October 31, 2022.

Jose Magaña-Salgado, DACA Recipient and Director of Policy and Communications for the Presidents’ Alliance stated: “I am heartened that the administration is taking steps to legally fortify and strengthen DACA, especially in light of the ongoing litigation in Texas. I and over half a million other DACA recipients live in constant uncertainty, unsure of our belonging in this country and at risk of losing a key protection that enables us to fully embrace the nation that we consider home. Concurrently, the administration must begin to explore additional forms of executive relief to supplement DACA, including options such as parole, Deferred Enforced Departure, and a bolder use of Temporary Protected Status.”

Christian Penichet-Paul, Director of the Higher Ed Immigration Portal and State Policy at the Presidents’ Alliance, stated: “The administration’s move to fortify DACA is an important step in the right direction. Now Congress must act to pass a permanent, legislative solution. At the same time, states can also act to protect and support DACA recipients and other undocumented students by expanding access to tuition equity, including in-state tuition, and professional licensure. These are common-sense solutions with positive economic and higher education impacts that will strengthen the U.S. and make state economies more competitive. As highlighted in the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, undocumented students pursuing higher education help fill critical skills shortages and become better positioned to support their families, local and state communities, and—as a result—the U.S. economy.”

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director of the Presidents’ Alliance, stated: “Even as we are gratified to see the administration take steps to fortify DACA, we know that the majority of undocumented students in higher education, especially those coming to our campuses this fall as new undergraduates, do not have or are ineligible for DACA. Ultimately, there is no permanent administrative solution for Dreamers, with or without DACA. This rule underscores the urgency of legislative action that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the over one million DACA and DACA-eligible people as well as the many other Dreamers living, going to school, working, and raising families in the same country they were raised in.”



The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities, and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 550 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.