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Nine Things You Should Know About Daca and Dreamers

In 2012, President Obama signed a controversial executive order creating the DACA program, which offers temporary amnesty to undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as children (often referred to as “Dreamers.”) These long-term residents of the U.S. were in the difficult position of being in the country without documentation, though through no fault of their own.

Since Obama left office, the future of the program, called the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals" - DACA program - has been uncertain, despite obvious benefits to its participants and society.

Here are nine things you should know about the DACA program and its uncertain future:

  1. Nearly 788,000 applications have been approved for DACA since the program took effect about five years ago.
  2. The most common countries of origin for Dreamers are Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  3. More Dreamers currently live, study and work in California than in any other U.S. state.
  4. DACA is good for the U.S. economy. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimates that Dreamers and others eligible for DACA pay about $2 billion in state and local taxes each year. The Center for American Progress projects that if DACA workers were stripped of their work permits and employment, the gross domestic product (GDP) would shrink by more than $433 billion over a ten-year period, and state and local governments would suffer a loss of revenues as well.
  5. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump promised to immediately put an end to President Obama’s “illegal immigration orders.” Since DACA is not a law, but a program created by executive order, Trump could at any time rescind the order and instruct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop the DACA program and stop renewing existing permits. That leaves even current Dreamers in a precarious position, as DACA is only granted for a period of two years and will expire if not renewed.
  6. Should the program be rescinded, Dreamers are at greater risk for deportation than many others who entered the country without visas, because they provided detailed information to the federal government when they registered for DACA. They might not be a high priority since they’ve been vetted for criminal records and other risk factors, but they would be easy to identify and locate.
  7. Since taking office, Trump has made statements suggesting that he is reconsidering his position on DACA. He has referenced a solution with “a lot of heart,” and expressed understanding of the difficult circumstances facing Dreamers. In addition, a June 16 order rescinding a related executive order specified that the terms of the original DACA program were not affected by the order.
  8. During the first quarter of 2017, 17,275 new DACA applications were granted and 107,524 were renewed, which is about at the same rate that applications were granted and renewed during President Obama’s tenure.
  9. Since the change in administrations, two DACA recipients have been detained by DHS. Although both were eventually released, the incidents have aggravated concerns among Dreamers and the organizations, attorneys and individuals who support their right to pursue free, productive lives in the United States.

Although Dreamers and those who hope to enroll in the program are understandably uneasy about their futures in the United States, there are some indications that this may be the one area of immigration law in which Trump decides to do the right thing, which is to allow those who are building lives in the United States on the DACA program to continue to move forward and to open the same doors for other young people.

The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm helps people with U.S. immigration matters. For more information, call (650) 931-2509, or fill out the contact form on this site.