What is DACA: What You Need to Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.

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On September 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the entire Trump Administration, announced an end to the DACA program. Here are the top 5 things to know about his announcement:

1. Your DACA is valid until its expiration date.
DACA and work permits (Employment Authorization Documents) will remain valid until its expiration date. To determine when your DACA and work permit expires, look at your I-795 Approval Notice and the bottom of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

2. No new DACA applications will be accepted.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer will accept or process first-time applications after September 5, 2017.

3. DACA issuances and work permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 must be submitted for renewal by October 5, 2017.
If you have a permit that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, you must apply for a two-year renewal of your DACA by Octb

4. Advance Parole to travel abroad is no longer available.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer grant DACA recipients permission to travel abroad through Advance Parole. Any pending applications for advance parole will not be processed and DHS will refund any associated fees.

5. We are united in this fight.
You are not alone. We mobilized, organized, and marched five years ago for DACA, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect immigrant youth and their families across the country. Visit www.weareheretostay.org for resources to help you and your loved ones take care of yourselves in this difficult time as well as information on what you can do to take action now.

Who are the Dreamers?

The Dreamers are some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. They have been permitted to stay in the country because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation introduced in 2012 by former US President Barack Obama.

Most Dreamers arrived in the US from Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. On average, they entered the US at the age of six-and-a-half. About 200,000 live in California; almost 115,000 are in Texas and more than 30,000 live in New York, according to US Immigration and Citizenship Services. Many also reside in Illinois and Florida.

Eligibility Guidelines prior to the repeal of DACA

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Had continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. 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;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Were currently in school, had graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, had obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or were an honorably-discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Had not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and did not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What is DACA?

DACA, created by former US President Barack Obama in 2012, protects by law young immigrants who were mostly raised in the US but arrived in the country undocumented.

The programme protects Dreamers from deportation, granting them a two-year period of amnesty that can be extended with a work permit and social security number.

Recipients of the programme’s safeguarding must have no criminal record, proof they were brought to the US before the age of 16, were under 31 years of age when the programme was launched, and be at least 15 years old when applying to invoke its protection.

Applicants must also be students, or have completed school or undertaken military service.

The application cost is nearly $500, and permits must be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process takes several weeks.

DACA does not give beneficiaries legal US residency. Those who pass the vetting process receive temporary reprieves from deportation and a temporary permission to work.

Why was DACA introduced?

DACA was created by Obama following intense pressure from advocates who wanted protections put in place for young immigrants who had been mostly raised in the US but lacked citizenship.

After repeated failures to pass the “Dream Act” – which would have provided a path to citizenship for those who later became DACA beneficiaries – the Obama administration revealed DACA on June 15, 2012.

What’s impact do ‘Dreamers’ have on the US?

According to a study by the University of California, San Diego, Dreamers have had a positive impact on the US economy. Some 97 percent of DACA recipients are employed or in school. They open firms and buy cars and homes and are predicted to boost the US economy by $460bn over the next decade.

At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ Dreamers, meaning that phasing out DACA will likely force big firms to spend time and cash recruiting new talent, Tom Wong, the author of the University of California study told Al Jazeera.

What does Trump say about DACA?

Trump promised to revoke the DACA legislation during the 2016 presidential election, as part of his vow to make cracking down on the US’ estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants a top priority of his administration.

In early September, the Trump administration moved to scrap the programme, giving Congress six months to come to a political solution before DACA officially ends.

In October, Trump sent Congress a list of immigration demands that he said must be tied to any legislation related to DACA.

The legislative agenda includes measures to ban immigrants from bringing extended family members to the US, constructing a border wall with Mexico and penalising the country’s “sanctuary cities”, those cities and states that that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities in an effort to help reduce the number of deportations.

“These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients,” Trump wrote in a letter to Congress accompanying the list.

This follows Trump’s announcement last month the White House would begin “an orderly, lawful wind down” of DACA.

As DACA was created by executive order, President Trump has the power to reverse the policy should he choose to do so.

Who is pushing back against Trump’s policies?

Trump’s recently announced immigration policy priorities have drawn criticism from political opponents and advocacy groups, as well as from some within Trump’s own party.

Top democrats have rallied against the policy with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Congress Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi labelling Trump’s plans as “far beyond what is reasonable”.

“The Administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” they said in a joint statement released Sunday.

“We told the President at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this … proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise,” they added.

What happens next?

The deadline for DACA recipients to renew their status and be granted two more years of stay in the US ended on September 7.

If Congress fails to negotiate an agreement based on Trump’s new legislative measures, or unless the president changes his policy plans, DACA recipients, who were unable to renew their status, could face deportation as early as March 2018.

– al jazeera

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