On September 5, the Trump administration announced that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program would end in six months, sparking outrage among immigrants and advocates. Since then, DACA and the debate surrounding it has dominated news cycles. For those who don’t know anything about DACA, or those who need a refresher, here’s everything you need to know about DACA:
What is it?
DACA was a policy introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012 that provided a renewable, two-year delay of deportation to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of sixteen. Applicants who were accepted were also eligible to apply for a work permit. In order to apply, potential applicants needed to have lived consistently within the US since 2007, must have graduated high school, or be honorably discharged from the armed forces, or attend college, and must pay $495. According to the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 788,000 people have had their requests accepted since 2012.
Why is it ending?
While both parties are sympathetic towards DREAMers, controversy surrounds DACA because it was introduced by the White House rather than Congress. Republicans believe that Obama overstepped his boundaries by dictating immigration policy, while democrats believe that since Congress had repeatedly failed to enact immigration reform, Obama did the right thing by stepping in. The Trump administration maintains that while they “Love ‘Dreamers,’” they needed to reverse the potentially unconstitutional program with a six month delay before the courts ended it immediately.
What is Congress doing about it?
Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced legislation that they describe as a conservative solution to protecting young undocumented immigrants. The bill, called the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education, and Defending our nation (SUCCEED), closely resembles the bill Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) brought to the house floor earlier in September. Both bills call for a deferred action program for undocumented immigrants who came to America under the age of sixteen, have lived here since 2012, are under the age of 31, have completed high school, and are either seeking higher education, have a steady job, or have served in the military. The program would consist of successive five year periods after which applicants would be eligible for legal status and eventually citizenship. The Senate bill introduced by Tillis and Lankford also seeks to appease conservative concerns about “Chain Migration” by banning applicants from using their status to sponsor relatives from their birth nations. SUCCEED also tightens restrictions on illegal immigration in general by limiting the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to offer exceptions and cracking down on migrants who overstay their VISA.
What can I do?
You can contact your local Congressman and share your opinions. If Congress does not act, all 788,000 DACA recipients will lose their protected status beginning with the first expirations in
April 2018. These former DREAMers will be subject to deportation at the discretion of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (ICE) Both republicans and democrats are committed to immigration reform. What remains to be seen is the exact how and when.