On September 5th, the White House announced the end of DACA. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which was a measure put into place by the Obama Administration through an executive order.
DACA sought to solve the problem of Congress’s failure to enact immigration reform, particularly for those undocumented immigrants that arrived in the US as children.
There are several rules that qualify a person to be eligible under DACA. For example, you must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and cannot be older than age 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also currently be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, received a GED, or served in some branch of the military. Additionally, you must not have any felony charges or significant misdemeanors and cannot pose a threat to national security.
Once a person meets these requirements they must also pay an application fee and meet several other criteria to continue being protected under DACA. The protection of DACA can last up to two years; after this period, one must apply again to re-enroll in the program. Since the program was enacted in 2012, over 780,000 people have applied for and received DACA protection. Of that number, less than 0.2% have had their DACA protections rescinded upon reapplication due to no longer meeting the requirements.
DACA allows recipients to attend school and work in the U.S. legally. It does not provide a path to citizenship or permanent residence, as many originally hoped it would.
There are many misconceptions about what DACA recipients qualify for when it comes to government services. DACA recipients have contributed over $19 billion dollars to social security and billions more in other taxes. Almost all of the recipients are 30 or more years away from being eligible to qualify for social security themselves. Despite contributing taxes to fund federal programs like food assistance, the ACA, housing assistance, SSI and more, DACA recipients are not eligible to participate in any of these programs.
It is important to look at the facts of what DACA really is in order to understand how ending the program will truly impact our country and economy. The multitude of benefits that the program offers to its recipients and our society as a whole make it clear that the program does little damage, except that it does not assist recipients in achieving the citizenship that many of them desire.
Educating ourselves on DACA and the DREAMERS Act and offering support to those affected by the actions of the White House by standing up for their rights is critical at this time. By looking at these programs and informing ourselves we are able to take a broader stance on what needs to be done with immigration reform to protect these people and thousands of others like them who are seeking a clear path to citizenship in a country that they love.
For additional information, Her Campus American would recommend the documentary, Documented, which follows the life of Jose Antonio Vargas, a leader of the DREAMER’s cause. Additional resources and ways to help those affected by the repeal of DACA can be found here.