Biden Formalizes DACA
By Patricia Elizee, Esq.,
On August 24, 2022, The Biden administration finalized a rule to transform the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy for "Dreamers" into a federal regulation. DACA has protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from being deported who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The announcement offers solace to those living in fear since President Trump's administration While much work is still to be done, Biden has taken a promising step forward.
What is DACA?
DACA recipients, also known as "dreamers," are a subset of this population who have received temporary protection from deportation and work authorization through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA is an American immigration policy that permits certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a two-year deferred period from deportation. These individuals are also eligible for a work permit in the United States during this time. DACA is a youth-led movement fighting for permanent protections, access to higher education, and full integration for undocumented young people.
The Origins Of DACA
In 2012, the United States Department of Homeland Security introduced DACA. The program was created in response to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was announced on June 15, 2012, by president Barack Obama and expanded in November of 2014.
DACA has since provided relief for nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants. However, it is only a temporary fix and doesn't provide a path to citizenship. Dreamers are nonetheless fighting for a permanent solution that would allow them to fully contribute to society without fear of deportation.
DACA allows certain young people who came to the United States as children to apply for a two-year deferral of deportation and a work permit. To be eligible, applicants must have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday and have lived in the country continuously since 2007.
DACA In Recent Years
As of June 2020, there were an estimated 649,000 active DACA recipients in the U.S. Here are some important dates that DACA has seen in recent years.
September 5, 2017 - the Trump administration announced it would end the DACA program but remained open to working with Congress on legislative solutions for Dreamers.
November 2019 - the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had not adequately ended DACA, thus keeping the program alive.
June 18, 2020 - the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration's decision to end DACA was "arbitrary and capricious" and, therefore, illegal under federal administrative law. As a result, DACA remains in effect as of June 2020.
The high court's decision means that those currently enrolled in DACA can continue to renew their status and remain in the U.S., but no new DACA applications will be accepted.
The future of DACA remained uncertain as negotiations over immigration reform continue in Washington.
Since taking office, the Biden Administration has taken several steps to protect and expand DACA. On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order that directed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to "preserve and fortify" the program.
The order also called on DHS to guide issuing advance parole documents to DACA recipients, allowing them to travel outside the United States and return without fear of being denied reentry.
In addition, the Biden Administration has proposed legislation providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including those currently protected by DACA.
If passed, the legislation would represent a significant victory for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants in the United States. On January 20, 2021, one of Biden's first executive orders was to reinstate and expand the DACA program. The August formalization now makes the DACA program part of the federal regulation.
You may request DACA if you:
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, meaning that:
o You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
o Any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of 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.
Patricia Elizee is an immigration attorney and managing partner of Elizee Law Firm. 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami Florida 33131. Phone: 305-371-8846