DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – is a significant component of the ongoing national immigration debate. An Obama-era policy, the future of DACA has been in significant doubt since the 2016 election. However, it is still essential for those who may qualify for DACA and their family members to understand how it could potentially impact immigration status.
What is DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a program intended to help people who were brought to the United States as children and became undocumented immigrants. DACA was launched in 2012 to provide these individuals, many of whom grew up in the United States from a young age, with temporary protection allowing them to work legally within the country.
Who May Be Eligible for DACA?
DACA relief is extended to individuals who are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012, and who originally came to the United States while under the age of 16. To be eligible, potential DACA recipients must have lived in the United States continuously from June 2007 onwards, though “brief and innocent” absences are permitted for humanitarian reasons.
What are the Drawbacks of DACA?
DACA was intended primarily as a way to grant emergency humanitarian relief to young people who would otherwise be deported under existing law. Its secondary purpose was to provide time and motivation for the development of long-term immigration solutions in Congress. Although there is always the possibility that new legislation will be advanced, this has not occurred at the time of this writing.
In its present form, DACA does not provide permanent legal status to individuals protected by the program. The status can be revoked or changed at any time. Likewise, DACA recipients generally may not travel outside the United States. They are required to apply for a special exemption typically only granted on humanitarian, education or employment grounds.
What Changes Were Made to DACA in September 2017?
In September of 2017, the Justice Department moved to end DACA. New applications for the program were suspended at that time. Those whose current protections were set to expire before March 5, 2018, were permitted to apply for a two-year renewal with an October 5, 2017, deadline.
At the moment, the long-term future of DACA and similar initiatives is unknown. Although the program is not accepting new applications, there is a chance that an act of Congress will extend DACA. Likewise, a new program might emerge to take its place.
What Should Potential and Current DACA Recipients Do Now?
When navigating any complex immigration program, it is important to get personalized advice from experts who truly understand the situation. Only a one-on-one consultation can give you the insights you need to make an informed choice about your situation.
The Law Offices of Kate L. Raynor & Associates is an Encino, CA, the law firm that has helped people from all backgrounds identify and pursue the right visa program for their immigration goals. To find out more, contact our team today.