WASHINGTON – A wide array of information and misinformation is currently swirling in the news about DACA, an immigration policy in effect since June 2012.
However, in light of President Donald Trump's decision to reevaluate the policy, different narratives have begun to circulate.
To help clear up the confusion, here are five things you should know about DACA.
What is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, more commonly known as DACA, is an Obama-era executive order that altered immigration policy, allowing for a two-year deferral of deportation for immigrant children.
Essentially, it aims to assist children who came to the United States illegally, either with their family or to join them here, but because they don’t have legal status face deportation. DACA provides the opportunity for these children to defer their deportation only if they meet the policy’s qualifications.
Who qualifies for the deferral?
DACA applicants have to meet the following requirements:
- must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
- must be under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012
- must have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007 to present
- must have been physically present in the United States on June 2012 and at the time of application
- must have arrived in the United States without documents before June 15, 2012 or their lawful status expired as of June 15, 2012
- must currently be enrolled in school, or have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, or classified as an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Coast Guard
- must have no felony convictions, no significant misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise post a threat to National Security or public safety
Who are “Dreamers?”
DACA was an executive order put into place by President Barack Obama in 2012, but similar legislation existed before. The DREAM Act was the forerunner of DACA, but it failed to win enough support in Congress to become law. Still, those who fall into the targeted demographic affectionately have been labeled “Dreamers.”
How many Dreamers are there and what is their fate if the policy ends?
There are approximately 800,000 Dreamers in the U.S. who fall under the protection of DACA. As to their future, it’s hard to tell because President Trump is allowing Congress six months to take legislative action either to end, re-instate, or replace DACA.
Does DACA only protect immigrant children?
It is often misconstrued that DACA is simply a protection for immigrant children; however, the policy also waives citizenship requirements for employment. Several well-known corporations lobbied the White House against ending the program.
It is important to note that President Trump's remarks are not a means of dismantling the program and stripping "Dreamers" of all hope.
In a formal statement on the matter, Trump said, “This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
President Trump has given Congress six months to implement a DACA replacement that he could sign into law.
“The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend,” Trump added.