DACA Explained: A Look At The Immigration Program Trump is Ending

DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program, put in place by President Obama with an executive order, protects a number of nearly 800,000 immigrants lacking legal status in the US from deportation. Two days ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Congress has officially added ‘replace DACA’ on its to-do list.

What does this mean?

DACA protects undocumented immigrants who were brought into the US as children – a group often described as Dreamers; and pulling the plug on DACA would mean capsizing President Obama’s signature immigration policy by potentially affecting the lives of more than three quarters of a million people. President Trump ended the program, saying it’s unconstitutional since Congress is supposed to set immigration law, not the White House.

So does this mean nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants will lose protection from deportation? The Trump administration states that the decision is up to Congress, giving them a six-month period to act before any currently protected individuals within the scope of the program lose their ability to work, study and live in the US.

The Trump administration says it will carry out the process in a way that will cause “minimum disruption.” President Trump has addressed the program numerous times during the campaign period, promising to dismantle it, but has recently signaled a softer stance on the subject. “To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids. We’re going to deal with DACA with heart.” And just last week, when he was asked whether Dreamers have anything to worry about, Trump answered, “We love the Dreamers.”

‘Dreamers’ in numbers:

  • Since the Obama administration began DACA in 2012, 787,580 people have been approved for the program, according to the government figures.
  • To be eligible as a ‘dreamer,’ applicants had to have arrived in the US before age 16 and have lived there since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security legalized the policy in 2012.
  • The application cost is about $500, and the documents must be renewed every two years.
  • Among the accepted applicants, Mexico is the biggest country of origin, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Those already in DACA seem to be fine for now, as the immigration officials say they aren’t going to target DACA recipients for deportation. However, the program is not accepting any new applications.

The story changes but the characters are almost always the same; Congress have been trying hard to come up with a comprehensive immigration reform for years, and are now turning towards DACA. It seems that it’s now up to the lawmakers to provide hundreds of thousands of people with a rational and convincing answer.


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