With hashtags like #defendDACA and #StandWithDREAMers circulating around social media, it’s hard to miss the news that President Trump has opted to repeal DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The White House announced that DACA, a program the Obama administration created in 2012, is illegal and will end after a six-month grace period wherein Congress has a chance to respond. The announcement has sent thousands reeling in an effort to understand what this might mean to young immigrants. Click here to speak to an immigration attorney in Houston.
DACA protects young undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them illegally into the United States as children. DACA currently protects an estimated 800,000 people that qualify for the program, allowing them to live in the U.S. without fear of immediate deportation. DACA allows these young people – called “DREAMers” after the DREAM Act – to work legally in the U.S. Every two years, qualifying candidates in the program must reapply for deferred action from deportation and work permits. Note that deferred action does not mean lawful status.
On June 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded former President Obama’s attempt to expand DACA to cover additional immigrants. The DHS continued to review the DACA program as a whole, until President Trump announced the White House’s intention to rescind DACA on September 5, 2017. Congress will have six months to come up with a solution for the DREAMers that were previously eligible to remain in the country thanks to DACA.
As of September 5, 2017, the DHS will not accept any new initial requests for DACA or associated applications. Previously, individuals could qualify for deferment under DACA if they were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, came to America before the age of 16, and lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. Individuals also needed a high school diploma, GED certification, to still be in school, or honorable discharge from the military. DREAMers also cannot have criminal records.
Should the DACA repeal come into effect, thousands of people will lose their jobs in the U.S. Estimates show about 30,000 people losing their jobs each month as DACA work permits expire without hope for renewal. The roughly 800,000 people in the program will become eligible for deportation. Almost 2,000 national leaders, including eight governors, have signed a letter asking Trump to rethink the repeal of DACA and protect the DREAMers, stating that candidates involved in the program have “enriched and strengthened our cities, states, schools, businesses, congregations, and families.”
President Trump’s plans to dismantle the DACA program have led to numerous protests around the country. Mr. Obama spoke out against the decision, calling it “cruel” and “self-defeating.” Some researchers believe the end of DACA will hurt the economy, while others see it as a chance to give work to others. It is now up to Congress to come up with an answer to the country’s immigration legislation in regard to young people whose parents brought them illegally into the country. Until then, America’s DREAMers will have to live in uncertainty as to their fates.
MORE: If you’re fearing deportation due to a recent arrest, speak to our skilled Houston criminal defense lawyers today.