What you need to know about DACA



DACA Repeal Discussion On September 15 during lunch in the Innovation Lab, San Jose-based immigration lawyer and NDB alumna Jessica Jenkins, ‘99, lead an information session on the repeal of DACA and a discussion of what the NDB community can do in response.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!”

President Donald J. Trump’s tweet the morning of September 5 got many Americans out of their beds and onto their smartphones. The Trump administration officially announced its plans to end DACA, a program that deferred deportation for undocumented children that was put into effect during former President Barack Obama’s terms in office. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not process anymore applications, and Trump will let the program run its course until its expiration as an executive order in six months.

So, while the news hit Americans, has it hit high school students as well? The following information will educate you on what DACA represents, who it protects, and why it has been a topic of controversy lately.

What is DACA?

The acronym DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and was made effective by Obama. It has benefited the lives of nearly 800,000 immigrants and has given them the opportunity to live, raise a family, and get an education in the United States. It would give children who are eligible a temporary legal immigration status in the United States for two years, so they can stay in the country while they file for permanent documentation.

During Trump’s presidential campaign, he publicized his views of negativity towards the program and hoped to end it when he came into office. However, once elected, he spoke to ABC news and stated,  “They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart…we’re going to take care of everybody.” Now, roughly nine months later, his administration states they will scrap the program.

Who does it protect?

The name “dreamers” became the label for those who were under protection of DACA. According to Immigration Equality, a LGBTQ immigrant rights organization, a dreamer must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible:

  • are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
  • came to the U.S. while under the age of 16;
  • have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present;
  • entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;
  • were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;
  • have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and
  • do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

It might sound too particular to do any good, but in total, DACA has granted approval 787,580 people who fall under those guidelines.

Who are the Dreamers?

Obama’s DACA program actually was the end result of  a compromise after a bipartisan act failed to pass through Congress. That act offered a chance at permanent legal residency, known as “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.” Hence, the acronym DREAM.

Why is it in the news now?

Those who oppose DACA from continuing believed that it was too much of a stretch under Obama’s executive power and believe that something as large as this program should be entirely up to Congress. Now, Trump is leaving any future of this program in the hands of Congress who have to have a vote of two-thirds within both houses.

DACA supporters are looking more at who it benefits rather than who’s behind it, and see the work of a successful deferring program for immigrants that pose no threat to live a better life within the United States. And, while it was an executive decision carried out by Obama, previous Presidents have created programs like DACA as well.

This controversial topic has had more than just politicians talking about it. Pope Francis is exhorting President Trump to let DACA remain as a program. According to many news sources, the Pope stated, “I have heard the president of the United States speak…He presents himself as a pro-life man. If he is a good pro-lifer, he should understand that the family is the cradle of life and you must defend its unity.”

Additionally, while expressing his understanding of DACA, Pope Francis’ viewpoint is in accordance with many other pro-DACA supporters, stating he believes that DACA removal is not from within Congress, but comes directly from the executive branch.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also shed some insight on its views on the rescindment of DACA: “The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”

With such a powerful voice from the Church speaking out on the topic, many bear in mind hope that the Trump administration will reevaluate their stance.