The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating over whether to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, following oral arguments this past Tuesday. The decision puts the fate of some 800,000 young people on the line.
With all of the mixed messaging in the media surrounding immigration, it seems like an opportune time to review the facts about what DACA is – and what it means.
What is DACA?
DACA is a program that President Obama implemented in 2012. It enables certain young immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children (known as “Dreamers”) to remain in the country legally – through renewable, two-year visas.
What are the eligibility criteria?
In order to qualify for DACA:
- You must have been living continuously in the U.S. since 2007.
- You must have come to the U.S. before you were 16 years old.
- You must have been under 31 years old on the date that DACA went into effect (June 15, 2012).
In addition, you most have a mostly clean criminal record and at least one of the following must be true:
- You are currently a student.
- You have a high school diploma.
- You are a military veteran.
It’s worth clarifying that DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship – or legal permanent residency. However, it enables around 800,000 young people in the U.S. to live here without having to constantly worry about the possibility of being deported. It allows Dreamers to work legally, open a bank account, get a driver’s license – in a nutshell, live a normal life.
It’s also important to dispel the myth that Dreamers somehow get a free ride off of the government. Dreamers actually contribute to the U.S. economy in important ways – both through their purchasing power and their own business start-ups.
What’s at stake?
President Trump attempted to repeal DACA two years ago. Since then, the issue has been making its way through the lower courts – and has been rejected at every level. Now it has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The final ruling on this subject has the potential to either save or devastate hundreds of thousands of young people who have lived nearly their entire lives in the U.S. We wait and hope for a compassionate outcome in this case.