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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created in 2012 to provide temporary relief from deportation to certain…

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created in 2012 to provide temporary relief from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors. In 2017, the Trump administration canceled DACA. While those who already hold DACA can continue to renew their documents, no new applicants can file for this relief. There are currently approximately 580,000 DACA recipients in the U.S., although many more undocumented immigrants would technically qualify for the program if it is reinstated.

Who Qualifies for DACA?

  • To be eligible for DACA, an applicant must have arrived in the U.S. before June 15, 2007, and before turning age 16
  • Applicants must have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least five years
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in school, or they must have graduated from high school, or have obtained at least a GED

DACA recipients technically do not have legal status in U.S., but they are protected from deportation through this program.

What are some of the benefits that DACA offers?

Besides the right to remain in the US without threat of deportation, DACA recipients are also eligible for some benefits:

  • You can hold valid employment authorization in the U.S., which must be renewed every two years
  • You can hold driver’s licenses in all 50 states, as long as they maintain their DACA designation
  • You can apply for in-state tuition in many states
  • Although it is not generally advisable, DACA recipients can apply for an advance parole document to allow them to travel outside and the U.S., if you can provide a critical reason for doing so

DACA protections can be revoked by the Department of Homeland Security, as the program is considered an immigration relief, and not a codified law. The relief that a DACA recipient holds is identical to other reliefs, such as those provided to some undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings, or who have final orders of removal.

DACA is also not a pathway to permanent resident status or citizenship. There is an ongoing court battle between opponents who want a summary judgement to be declared ruling DACA as unlawful, and advocates who want to reinstate and even expand the program. If DACA is not reinstated, it will leave thousands of undocumented students in limbo, who were born after June 2007 or who arrived in the US after that date.

Some political advocates are calling for DACA recipients to be given a pathway to legal permanent resident status in the U.S., and ultimately to U.S. citizenship. So far, no measures have been passed to give DACA recipients ways to gain permanent legal status in the U.S.

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