What is DACA? (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

What is DACA?

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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is a deferred action policy aimed at protecting qualifying, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Implemented by President Obama in 2012, DACA was created as a stopgap measure to temporarily shield these immigrants from deportation and to provide work authorization.

While recipients, known as “Dreamers,” can renew their DACA status every two years, DACA does not offer legal status or a path to citizenship. The Department of Homeland Security can revoke a Dreamer’s DACA status for just cause.

Participation in DACA includes a range of benefits:

  • Permission to remain in the U.S.
  • Authorized to work
  • The right to attend a U.S. college or university (with many states offering tuition assistance)
  • Get health insurance (either through employers or states where offered)
  • Obtain a driver’s license (in states that authorize it)

To receive the protections and benefits of DACA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012
  • You must have arrived in the United States before your 16th birthday
  • You must have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007, until the present (“continuously” is defined as without an absence of three months or more)
  • You must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time you apply
  • You must have come to the United States without documents before June 15, 2012, or your lawful status must have expired prior to June 15, 2012
  • You must currently be in or graduated from high school, college, technical or trade school (certificate of completion of high school or GED is acceptable), or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. military
  • You must NOT have been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors (including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind. Consult with an attorney about ANY contact you have had with law enforcement or immigration authorities

In 2017, President Trump sought to end DACA, resulting in a three-year-long legal battle in the federal courts.

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court found Trump’s attempt at ending DACA illegal. This decision did not resolve the legal questions surrounding DACA, but merely pushed an ultimate resolution to a later date.