Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy that allows some undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children, to receive a two-year renewable period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for an employment authorization document (work permit) in the U.S.
President Barack Obama announced DACA on June 15, 2012, and since then, DACA has provided temporary relief from deportation and the ability to get work authorization to more than 825,0000 undocumented immigrants.
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced a plan to phase out DACA, but three U.S. district courts issued injunctions preventing the phase-out of DACA. The Supreme Court upheld these injunctions but did not rule on the legality of DACA.
On July 16, 2021, a U.S. district court judge ruled that DACA violated the law and barred the government from accepting new applications to the program; however, current recipients can keep their status and submit renewals while the case goes through the appeals process. On October 5, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that DACA is unlawful. This ruling, if it is upheld, threatens to upend their lives.
Further, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools each year. Since the federal courts have barred new applications for DACA, there are now hundreds of thousands of additional undocumented immigrants whose dreams for the future are in jeopardy.
DACA recipients (often called Dreamers) were all brought to the United States at an early age and have spent more than 15 years here—this is truly the only home they have. Their families are here—more than 1.3 million people live with a DACA recipient, including more than 300,000 U.S.-born children who have at least one parent with DACA. They are an essential part of their communities—nearly 80% of DACA recipients are employed, and about half of those are in jobs deemed essential, including healthcare, education and childcare, and food production and processing. They helped keep our country functioning during the pandemic!
Many polls show a strong majority of registered voters (nearly 70% in some polls)1. favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Only Congress can provide permanent security for DACA recipients. It is time for Congress to step up and pass legislation to protect Dreamers. now.