Navigating the complex world of immigration policies in the United States can be a daunting task. One program that has been at the center of numerous debates and discussions in recent years is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Today, we will dive deep into the intricacies of DACA, its history, eligibility criteria, benefits, and the ongoing legal battles surrounding it:
DACA: The Genesis and Purpose
Established in June 2012 by the Obama Administration, DACA is a US immigration policy aimed at providing temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to eligible undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children. The program acknowledges that these individuals, often referred to as “Dreamers,” have grown up in America, considering it their home, and should not be penalized for their parents’ choices.
The purpose of DACA is not to provide a pathway to citizenship but to grant eligible Dreamers a sense of security, allowing them to work, study, and contribute to society without the constant fear of deportation. It is important to note that DACA is a discretionary and temporary relief, meaning that it does not confer any legal status or rights and can be revoked or terminated at any time.
Eligibility Criteria: Who Can Apply for DACA?
To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria, which include:
- Age requirement: Applicants must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and must have arrived in the United States before turning 16.
- Continuous residence: Dreamers should have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, up to the present time.
- Physical presence: Applicants must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the DACA request.
- No lawful status: Dreamers should not have any lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, or have had their lawful status expire as of that date.
- Education or military service: To be eligible, applicants must be currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the US military or Coast Guard.
- Clean criminal record: Dreamers must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and they should not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Benefits of DACA
Once granted DACA, recipients receive a two-year renewable period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for work authorization. With proper work permits, Dreamers can seek lawful employment, obtain driver’s licenses and social security numbers, and access better educational opportunities. Again, while DACA does not provide a direct path to citizenship, it allows them to live in the US with peace of mind knowing they aren’t in danger of deportation.
The Legal Battles and Uncertain Future
DACA has faced numerous legal challenges since its inception. In September 2017, the Trump Administration attempted to terminate the program, leading to a series of lawsuits and court rulings that prevented its complete dismantling. In June 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” effectively blocking the termination of the program.
However, the future of DACA remains uncertain, with ongoing legal battles and potential policy changes under the new administration. The Biden Administration has expressed its commitment to safeguarding DACA and exploring pathways to citizenship for Dreamers, but the ultimate fate of the program will depend on legislative actions and judicial decisions.
All in all, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a crucial lifeline for thousands of undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States, offering them a sense of security and the opportunity to work and study without the looming threat of deportation. While its future remains uncertain, DACA continues to be a significant topic of debate and discussion in the realm of US immigration policy. Either way, understanding the intricacies of DACA is essential for those affected by it and for those seeking to engage in informed conversations and advocacy efforts surrounding this vital program.
Penna Immigration Law is a Houston immigration lawyer offering law-related services to help those living in the US find the solution they need to live with peace of mind. Work with us today to ensure you can live in the US legally and without any issues!