What is DACA? The Details You Need to Understand this Program

November 9th is National DACA Day of Action, marking two months since President Trump moved to end DACA. Since then, not much has been said regarding the program, but it's important that we know about it. Here's a breakdown of the program. 

What is DACA?

First things first, DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This program was created on June 15, 2012 by Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

This program is designed for immigrants who came to the United States as children and want to continue to live here, go to school here and work here.  For most DACA applicants, the United States is their only home and consider it as such. Telling them to “go back home” would be the equivalent of telling an American to go to a foreign country. It may be where their parents are from, but it’s not their home.

The guidelines for the DACA application are very extensive. This application process for every DACA applicant costs $465.

The guidelines are listed below:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety (https://www.uscis.gov/archives/).

Most people have this misconception that once you get to America, it’s easy. You no longer have to worry, but that isn’t the case. With programs like DACA, even if you’re undocumented, it gives you the possibility to work and give your family a better tomorrow; something most Americans take for granted. With this program under fire, people’s families and lives will be displaced, but we, as citizens, don’t realize the importance of immigration programs and the effect they have on us too, if they are disbanded.   What is important about immigration programs like these? What do we stand to lose? In the Archives of the White House website, you can find information from Barack Obama’s Era. Listed there are ten reasons why immigration is important. To understand, DACA, you need to understand the importance of immigrants and immigration.

The 10 reasons are listed below.

  1. Immigrants start businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants.
  2. Immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and according to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion annually.
  3. Immigrants are also more likely to create their own jobs. According the U.S. Department of Labor, 7.5 percent of the foreign born are self-employed compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born.
  4. Immigrants develop cutting-edge technologies and companies.  According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel.
  5. Immigrants are our engineers, scientists, and innovators. According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. Additionally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited with contributing to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities.
  6. Immigration boosts earnings for American workers. Increased immigration to the United States has increased the earnings of Americans with more than a high school degree. Between 1990 and 2004, increased immigration was correlated with increasing earnings of Americans by 0.7 percent and is expected to contribute to an increase of 1.8 percent over the long-term, according to a study by the University of California at Davis.
  7. Immigrants boost demand for local consumer goods. The Immigration Policy Center estimates that the purchasing power of Latinos and Asians, many of whom are immigrants, alone will reach $1.5 trillion and $775 billion, respectively, by 2015.
  8. Immigration reform legislation like the DREAM Act reduces the deficit.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, under the 2010 House-passed version of the DREAM Act, the federal deficit would be reduced by $2.2 billion over ten years because of increased tax revenues.
  9. Comprehensive immigration reform would create jobs. Comprehensive immigration reform could support and create up to 900,000 new jobs within three years of reform from the increase in consumer spending, according to the Center for American Progress.
  10. Comprehensive immigration reform would increase America’s GDP. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that even under low investment assumptions, comprehensive immigration reform would increase GDP by between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent from 2012 to 2016 (https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov).

What do we stand to lose?

According to The Cato Institute and the Center for American Progress, strict immigration laws and deportation of immigrants will lead to a decrease in the U.S. economy by about 300 to 500 billion dollars. Immigrants are the driving force of the American economy and it may be hard to believe but without them, according to the Pew Research Institute, our workforce population will decline by 2035.

For some states, like California and Texas, immigrants make up the bulk of the workforce and if deported, California and Texas stand to lose $11.3 billion and $6.1 billion, respectively (Center for American Progress).

All in all, Immigrants should be allowed to stay and work. Most come here for the American dream, to have their future generation better off than the preceding one. We should encourage that because after all, it’s what we founded our ideals in and put our hopes and dreams into.