What is DACA and why should you care?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was officially terminated in September of 2017, and 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, not to mention the prospect of getting reelected, then President Barack Obama announced an executive action of DACA on June 15, 2012. This act was a direct result of affected youth engaging in acts of civil disobedience and protest as well as Obama’s seeking approval to win a second term in office. It was a movement that pushed people that were 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:
- Under the age of 31 as of June 15 2012
- Came to the US before the age of 16
- Continually resided in the US from June 15 2007 to the present
- Either currently in school, graduated from high school, or had obtained a GED
- No felony or significant misdemeanor
Why should you care about DACA?
On Sept 5 2017 Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA, fading it out over the subsequent 6 months. Reaching its conclusion on March 5 2018 (I have outlined the changes to DACA here). Currently there are close to 800,000 that have DACA right now. In New Jersey alone there are currently 22,000 who have DACA, and another 50 thousand eligible who will be unable to apply.
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. As an example: the city of Seattle has slightly less people than current DACA holders. The loss of 700,000 workers would be felt across our economy. And many of them are also employers.
- DACA provided revenue to the US government. A DACA application was 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.
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 The DREAM Act.
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 end, read this post on DACA to see other options to residency. Or connect with a good immigration lawyer who will be able to help you with your options.