Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Headlines are ablaze about the current Congressional wrangling over how to resolve the immigration pickle recipients of DACA currently find themselves in, thanks to the decision by the Trump administration in September 2017 to halt the program. As lawmakers struggle to find a workable compromise between Republicans and Democrats, it’s worth taking a moment to review what exactly all the hullabaloo is about.
A Quick History of DACA
DACA was born after comprehensive immigration reform fizzled in Congress in 2012. The Senate had passed an immigration bill, but when it was sent over to the House, it was never brought up for a vote. Frustrated at the lack of progress on immigration reform, the Obama administration authorized a program for people who were brought to the US as children. This group has traditionally been known as DREAMers, thanks to the title of some previous legislation meant to address the difficult situation these young immigrants find themselves in. They have grown up in the United States, but because they don’t have legal status, the American dream is cut off for them. Without legal status, it’s hard to go to college (either because of admission issues or because it’s hard to qualify for funding) and it’s hard to get a stable job.
Who Qualifies for DACA?
When DACA was announced, the immigrant community was overjoyed. Finally, a lifeline! People could come out of the shadows and start making a life for themselves. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which means that for a renewable, two-year time period, recipients of DACA would not be subject to deportation and that they would be issued a work permit, as long as they met the following requirements:
- As of June 15, 2012, you were younger than age 31.
- You came to the US before you were 16 years old.
- Since June 15, 2007, you have continuously resided in the US through the present time.
- You were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012.
- You were also physically present in the US when you submitted your DACA application.
- You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
- You fit one of the following educational categories:
- You are currently in school,
- You have graduated from high school or obtained a certificate of completion,
- You have a GED; or
- You have been honorably discharged from the US military or coast guard.
- You don’t have any felony convictions, serious misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors, and, you don’t pose a security or terror threat to the US.
Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants without status have applied for and received this limited status and work authorization. It has been life changing for them. All that is now threatened by the inability of Congress to strike a deal. Democrats have tied passage of the government spending bill due on January 19 to passage of a DACA fix, but with the circus atmosphere in DC, it’s hard to know if they’ll be able to agree on anything. Vancouver immigration attorneys are watching closely to see what will happen to their clients.