DACA is back! On December 4, 2020 a New York federal judge ruled to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program back to Obama-era administration guidelines. This comes as good news for many immigrant youths, as it protects the right for them to continue to work, study and avoid deportation on a two year renewal period. Provided that these individuals meet certain criteria as well as maintain “good behavior” they are eligible to apply to the program for the first time in two years.
What is DACA?
Introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA was aimed to cover undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, the right to work and study without the fear of deportation. Unlike the similar proposed Dream Act, DACA does not provide legal status to young immigrants. However, one could think of DACA as a step in the right direction to achieving the American dream. To be eligible recipients must meet the following legal requirements:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
To file a request for DACA you will need to complete an I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS with the USCIS. You must also submit supporting documents with your request. Certain travel can be granted for DACA recipients by requesting an advance parole and paying a fee.
Challenges Against DACA
Since its inception in 2012 the DACA program has had much push back from lawmakers. There have been numerous lawsuits filed against the program stating that it is unlawful. President Obama proposed an expansion to DACA only to be denied. In 2017, President Donald Trump made attempts to end DACA resulting in the restriction of new applicants. Despite a two year freeze of the DACA program, it was finally ruled that DACA should not have been overturned in the first place and to reinstate the program back to its original order.
What’s To Come for DACA
With DACA back to accepting applications, you can expect to see waves of approvals and possible expansion to the program. President Joe Biden has vowed to make changes on immigration reform and plans to immediately instill bills to reduce the rate of separations between immigrant families.