By Jessica Simmons
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program enacted by then-President Obama in 2012. It established a procedure for undocumented people who arrived in the United States as minors to apply for status that allows them to work and temporarily protects them from deportation legally.
There are some restrictions. For example, applicants must be under 30 at the time of application and have arrived in the US before 16.
Before this legal pathway became established, these young people could end up being deported to countries where they may have no remaining familial connections and no way to remain in the country they call home legally. In some cases, they have no memory of the country they were born in; others may only speak English or may not even have been aware of their undocumented status.
Some DACA applicants and recipients have stories of not knowing their immigration status until they wanted to apply to college or get a driver’s license and realizing that they don’t have a social security number.
Former President Trump acted in 2017 to rescind DACA. This order was met with multiple court challenges, ultimately landing in the Supreme Court last December.
On Feb. 4, the court ruled in a 4/5 decision that the DACA shutdown order would not stand, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” However, the decision did not necessarily establish protection for the program. Instead, the decision was based on the opinion that the president and the DHS had not presented valid or sufficient reasoning for their actions.
The Department of Homeland Security was ordered to reinstate the program and resume accepting applications fully. The DHS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services websites were updated to reflect those changes on Dec. 7.
Following his inauguration on January 20, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum protecting DACA: Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Biden has also introduced an immigration reform package and acted to reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
You can find more details, including information about eligibility and how to apply, at the links below: