The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a United States immigration policy that allows certain undocumented individuals who entered the United States as minors to avoid deportation. President Barack Obama established the DACA program by Executive Action in 2012 which gave deferred action, but not a path to legal status, to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. It covered approximately the same group of people who would have been covered by the DREAM Act if it had been passed into legislation. Eligible DACA applicants are often called “DREAMers”.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is legislation that has been proposed several times since 2001 but which has never been passed, and which grants a path to legal status for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Under the DACA policy, individuals who were brought to the United States at a young age and meet certain criteria had some relief from the fear of deportation. Many of these individuals were facing deportation to a country they hardly know and have little connection to. DACA allowed these individuals to apply for authorization to legally work and earn a living for themselves and their families. However, the Trump administration has recently announced the end of DACA.
DACA granted certain individuals relief from deportation and allowed them to apply for work authorization and a driver license. The DACA program did not provide a path to citizenship or grant lawful permanent status. To be eligible for DACA, individuals had to meet the following requirements:
- Entered the United States before their 16th birthday
- Entered the United States prior to June 15, 2007
- Lived continuously in the United States since their arrival
- Currently enrolled in school, a high school graduate, or honorably discharged from the military
- Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012
- No serious misdemeanor convictions or three total misdemeanors
- No felony convictions
- No threat to national security
Upon approval, individuals received a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. Approved individuals could apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), to be eligible for employment in the United States.
These individuals were eligible to apply to travel abroad for educational, employment, or humanitarian purposes. However, travel for leisure was not permitted.
End of DACA
The DACA policy was established in June 2012 by the Obama administration. However, as of September 2017, the Trump administration has phased out DACA. Full implementation of the DACA phase-out has been delayed for 6 months to give Congress time to determine how to proceed with the hundreds of thousands of individuals who were enrolled in the program.
According to the most recent policy, USCIS is no longer accepting initial requests for DACA. The agency will process initial requests for DACA that were accepted by September 5, 2017. USCIS will also no longer approve advance parole requests associated with DACA. It is unclear what will happen to the almost 800,000 DREAMers who were given relief from the threat of deportation under DACA.
The DACA policy in the United States is undergoing significant changes, and these policies may continue to change over the next few months and years. It is important to talk to your immigration attorney for the latest information, policy changes, and advice for any DACA-eligible individuals.
If you have any questions about DACA status and deportation risks, contact the Law Office of Nita Kundanmal today. We handle all aspects of family and employment immigration law in New Jersey and New York and throughout the United States.