DACA Explained: Things to Know About the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program

September 05, 2017 06:24 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution for the immigrants.

RELATED: Trump Rescinding DACA Program Protecting Young Immigrants

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Here's a look at the program and what happens next for the nearly 800,000 people in it who are allowed to work in the U.S. and receive protection from deportation.

Keep in mind, Tuesday's announcement essentially gives Congress six months to act. Either they can allow the program to be phased out, or they can pass a new law that addresses these issues.

RELATED: Obama Calls Trump's DACA Phase-Out 'Cruel,' 'Self-Defeating'

What is DACA?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the only people eligible are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as kids.  Since the program began in 2012, nearly 800,000 people throughout the country have been approved.

  • It was created by President Barack Obama in 2012 after intense pressure from immigrant advocates who wanted protections for the young immigrants who were mostly raised in the U.S. but lacked legal status. The program protects them from deportation — granting them a two-year reprieve that can be extended and by issuing them a work permit and a social security number.
  • DACA recipients must have no criminal record, proof they were brought to the U.S. before age 16 and be under 31 when the program was launched but at least 15 years old when applying. The application cost is nearly $500 and permits must be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process take several weeks.
  • DACA does not give beneficiaries legal U.S. residency. Recipients get temporary reprieves from deportation and permission to temporarily work.
  •  They can obtain driver's licenses, enroll in college and legally apply for jobs.

Where did it come from?

Frustration grew during the Obama administration over repeated failures to pass the "Dream Act," which would have provided a path to legal U.S. citizenship for the young immigrants who ended up becoming DACA beneficiaries and became known as "dreamers." The last major attempt to pass the legislation was in 2011.

Immigrant activists staged protests and participated in civil disobedience in an effort to push Obama to act after Congress did not pass legislation. DACA is different than the Dream Act because it does not provide a pathway to legal residency or citizenship.


What do you think of President Donald Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with in six months?

Let your elected officials know your views on the issue?

Here are the websites and contact numbers of Minnesota's Congressional delegation:

Rep. Tim Walz (D) - (202) 225-2472; https://walzforms.house.gov/contact/

Rep. Jason Lewis (R) - (202) 225-2271; https://jasonlewis.house.gov/contact/

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) - (202) 225-2871; https://paulsen.house.gov/contact-me/

Rep. Betty McCollum (D) - (202) 225-6631; https://mccollum.house.gov/contact/email

Rep. Tom Emmer (R) - (202) 225-2331; https://emmer.house.gov/contact/email

Rep. Collin Peterson (D) - (202) 225-2165; https://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me

Rep. Rick Nolan (D) - (202) 225-6211; https://nolan.house.gov/contact


Why end it?

President Donald Trump was under pressure from several states that threatened to sue his administration if it did not end DACA. They argued the order Obama issued creating the program was unconstitutional and that Congress should take charge of legislation dealing the issue.

Immigrant advocates, business leaders including the chief executives of Apple and Microsoft, clergy and many others put intense pressure on Trump to maintain the program but he decided to end it.

What now?

  • Young immigrants already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire.
  • If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5.
  • If their permits expire beyond that March date, they will not be able to renew and could be subject to deportation when their permits expire.
  • People who miss the October deadline will be disqualified from renewing their permission to remain in the country and could face deportation, although the Trump administration has said it will not actively provide their information to immigration authorities.
  • It will be up to Congress to take up and pass legislation helping DACA beneficiaries. One bill introduced this year would provide a path to legal permanent residency.
  • Many DACA beneficiaries say they worry they will be forced to take lower-wage, under-the-table jobs and will be unable to pay for college or assist their families financially.

KSTP's Josh Rosenthal assisted in the reporting for this story


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Associated Press

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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