Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does DACA stand for?
DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Participants in the program are often referred to as “Dreamers.” They were brought to the United States as young children by their parents with undocumented legal status.
- What does DACA do?
DACA, initiated during the Obama administration, is a federal government program that protects children of undocumented immigrants from deportation for two years as they pursue educational and employment goals. More than 800,000 young persons have participated in the program.
- What are the program’s requirements?
To qualify for the program’s protections, applicants must be: (1) Under the age of 31 as of June 5, 2012, (2) In the United States prior to their 16th birthday, (3) Living continuously in the United States since June 5, 2007, (4) Either currently in school, in possession of a high school diploma or its equivalency, or an honorably discharged military veteran, and (5) Able to show a clean criminal record and pass a background check.
- What is DACA’s current status?
On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would rescind the DACA program. The federal government no longer processes new DACA applications and DACA recipients seeking to renew their protected status had to file for an extension by October 5, 2017. Current DACA requests and corresponding work permits remain valid until they expire, unless otherwise revoked or ended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
- What are the implications of DACA’s end?
Dismantling DACA deprives Dreamers and their families of the economic and communal security that was once promised to them. It renders their accomplishments and contributions to American society of no real value and exposes them to possible deportation. When they applied to the program, Dreamers had to disclose not just their personal information but that of their parents as well. With the end of DACA, those protections against deportation disappear. Studies predict that ending DACA will cost the federal government alone $60 billion. As a group, Dreamers contribute $30 billion a year in earnings to the national economy and, although they are not legal permanent residents, Dreamers pay income tax, Social Security, and other taxes as part of their DACA designation. With the loss of Dreamers in the workforce, economic growth is estimated to shrink $280 billion over the next ten years.
- What efforts are underway to address the end of DACA?
The Trump administration has indicated some willingness to revisit the DACA program, but specific details have not been offered and the onus is clearly on Congress to find a lasting legislative fix. A bipartisan group of senators have sponsored The Dream Act (S.1615/H.R. 3440), which would protect those who meet current DACA requirements and provide them with a path to citizenship. The bill has support in both houses of Congress and has a majority of support among likely voters. Additionally, several states, universities and NGOs have filed lawsuits challenging the administration’s decision to end DACA. Those cases, however, are still in the early stages and it is
not certain what impact, if any, they will have on the program’s future direction.