What Is Daca and Why Should You Care? Updated Sept 2023
By: Harlan York
September 14, 2023

UPDATE | SEP 14 2023: DACA Once Again Deemed “Illegal” by U.S. District Judge Hanen

Once again DACA is in the news for immigrants who arrived here in their youth and are now as old as 42. This game has been playing since 2012. I have written over and over again about DACA.

By no means is this the first time these young immigrants have been left in limbo.

“For too long, Dreamers have been used as a political football. It is time for Congress—Democrats and Republicans—to do their job and pass a sensible solution that will ensure that Dreamers can stay in the U.S. and contribute to our nation and economy.” — Craig Duchossois, Executive Chair of The Duchossois Group.

Efforts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) began in 2017.

DACA has been in the news a lot since then.

What is DACA, what has changed? And why should you care?


In the summer of 2012, following years of protest and grassroots advocacy by affected youth (“Dreamers”), not to mention the prospect of his getting reelected, President Barack Obama announced an executive action of DACA on June 15, 2012.

DACA pushed young people — previously attending school and working in the shadows — forward, to ensure that they could get some kind of protection under the law.


DACA protected people who came with family members or by themselves under the age of 16, stopped them from being deported and allowed them to work. But because it was an executive order it was always a temporary fix, and it was never intended to be a path to residency. The requirements were:

  1. Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  2. Came to the US before the age of 16
  3. Continually resided in the US from June 15, 2007 to the present
  4. Either currently in school, graduated from high school, or had obtained a GED, or serving honorably in the military
  5. No felony or significant misdemeanor


On Sept 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to announce the end of DACA, fading it out over the subsequent 6 months.

The initial conclusion was set for March 5, 2018.

Litigation immediately ensued.

Currently there are close to 600,000 that have DACA right now.

Why should you care? Well aside from any humanitarian impulses you may or may not have:

  • DACA provided an onramp to work development. DACA beneficiaries took giant leaps under the program; they have seen investments pay off in higher education. A study at Harvard about the effects of DACA showed the biggest results were that the young people could go back to school.
  • DACA youth are paying taxes and contributing to our country, in large numbers. The loss of 600,000 workers would be felt across our economy. DACA holders include many essential workers during COVID. And a host of Dreamers are also employers.
  • DACA provided revenue to the US government.  A DACA application costs approximately  $500.  If you look at the current numbers of DACA recipients that adds up to approximately 372 million dollars (not including the individuals that didn’t get in who applied). This figure also leaves out the individuals that applied two to five more times. So there’s a couple of hundred million more in government revenue generated by DACA.
  • DACA affects our GDP. Research  by the Center for American Progress shows that cancellation of DACA would reduce the gross domestic product of the US by 433 billion in ten years!
  • DACA lowers stress and creates a feeling of belonging among youth, and can affect everyone. DACA had a profound psychological affect in that it boosted feeling of belonging and reduced stress. Dealing with the uncertainty for young people due to this change will be profoundly challenging.


DACA was never meant to be a permanent fix. Contact Congress to explain the need for immigration reform.

We have been helping youth get green cards and stay in the country in more permanent ways for decades. If you, or someone you know is affected by DACA’s potential end, read this post on DACA to see other options to residency. Or connect with an experienced immigration lawyer who will be able to help you with your case.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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