What is DACA and why should you care?

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?

The history of DACA

In the summer of 2012, following 2 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.

Who did DACA protect, and what were the requirements?

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

Why should you care about DACA?

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 and DACA still survives in July 2020.

Currently there are close to 800,000 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 700,000 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 times. DACA had been around for only five years, and individuals had to reapply every two years. 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 recipients are even representing us at the Olympics!

What can those affected by the cancellation of DACA do now?

DACA was never meant to be a permanent fix. Call your Senators and representatives 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.

DACA has changed yet again! If you are looking to apply or renew in 2021 click here.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

Do you have a question about DACA?

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