Defend DACA! Legalization for All!
Photo Credit: Peg Hunter

On January 20, 2021, on President Biden’s first day in office, he issued an executive memorandum to reinstate and preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. For the immigrant community that has been under assault for the past 4 years, this was a moment to celebrate and a welcome change in the administration’s commitment to protecting immigrant youth.

Meanwhile, immigrant rights advocates are pushing for more inclusive and durable protections. There are efforts to push for both piecemeal legislation, individual bills addressing specific immigration policies, and a more sweeping and comprehensive bill that will cover all bases and give relief to all 11 million undocumented people in the US.

The Dream and Promise Act (HR6) passed in the House in March that would give DACA and DACA eligible individuals access to a pathway to citizenship. While on the surface this is good news, looking at the fine print there are broad criminal bars and secondary review processes that mirror the deep-rooted racial bias of the criminal justice system, effectively blocking youth of color, who have been targeted by racist policing, from the possibility of ever regularizing their status. For those that would qualify under this program, the proposed ten-year conditional status would subject applicants to years of negotiating a permanent residency through administrative procedures, appeals of denial, and even removal orders. This bill assumes the continued political will of the executive, congressional and judicial branches of government beyond the current administration’s time in office. Dreamers and TPS holders should be regularized unconditionally and expeditiously. They have the right to remain in this country, where they belong. The bill moves to the Senate, where we and others will push for a removal of these concerning provisions.

The introduction of the Citizenship Act of 2021 in both the House and the Senate on February 18, 2021, signals an effort to propose a more comprehensive legislative fix to the immigration system, including DACA, TPS and a path to regularization for all 11 million undocumented migrants and refugees. We will continue to monitor the language and progress of each of these bills and push for inclusive language and an adherence to human rights, civil rights and labor rights protections for all migrant communities.

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR DACA RENEWALS — MAY 10, 2021

“While processing times can vary, filing as early as possible will minimize the possibility that the current period of DACA and employment authorization will expire before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates the renewal request. USCIS’ published goal is to process DACA renewal and related employment authorization requests within 120 days. If you file after the recommended filing period (meaning less than 120 days before your current period of DACA expires), there is an increased possibility that your current period of DACA and employment authorization will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request.”

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF DACA

What is DACA?

  • DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • Announced on June 15, 2012 by the Secretary of Homeland Security, under the administration of President Obama, rescinded in 2017 by Trump and reinstated in 2021 by President Biden.
  • Permits temporary authorization for undocumented immigrants who meet certain guidelines to remain in the United States.
  • Allows employment authorization to allow youth recipients to work.
  • Currently enrolled include 825,000 youth, who are allowed to live, study and work in the U.S. 

How long does DACA permit eligible recipients to remain in the United States?

  • Eligible grantees are permitted deferred action for a period of two years, which may be considered for renewal.

What does deferred action mean?

  • Deferred action means delaying the deportation of an undocumented immigrant for a certain period of time. 
  • An undocumented youth that is currently living in the United States may be eligible for DACA. The youth can request DACA, even if they are currently in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal. If the youth is detained, he or she can also request DACA or ask to be released based on prima facie DACA eligibility.

What are the eligibility guidelines to be considered for DACA? Those who…

  • Came to the United States before reaching 16th birthday;
  • Continuously resided in United States since June 15, 2007, up until the present time;
  • Are under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained certificate of completion from high school, have obtained General Education Development certification, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States of America;
  • 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;
  • 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.

FIRST TIME APPLICANTS


RENEWALS

OTHER KEY INFO LINKS

RESOURCES FOR DACA RECIPIENTS & DACA ELIGIBLE

The NOTIFICA App

A Hub for News, Alerts, Assistance & Action

from United We Dream

United We Dream launched the Notifica App back in 2018 as a deportation defense tool. They have updated it in response to the current period, because the Biden administration is still deporting people and Immigrant communities need to be prepared in case they face immigration agents. In response, UWD launched the next generation of the Notifica App (you can download the app by texting NOTIFICA to 877-877 to get a link to your phone or visit the website here)

Now, Notifica is not only a deportation defense app to help our immigrant community protect themselves against deportation agents. Notifica is now your hub for the latest immigration news and alerts, DACA updates and assistance, mental health resources, and a directory of community groups.

More United We Dream resources

dream.us DACA resources

Informed Immigrant resources

History of the Fight for DACA

2021: Biden Administration reinstates DACA and the Dream and Promise Act passes the house and heads to the Senate.

2020: Trump Administration refusing to allow new DACA applications, despite court order to do so.

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 18 served a blow to the Trump Administration, ruling against Trump’s attempt to dismantle the DACA program. Trump Admin. refuses to comply, conducts a “review” of program, limiting renewals.DHS memo, Reconsideration of the June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.”

The DACA program had remained in place after the President’s decision to rescind the DACA program in 2017. Legal challenges from various states and districts resulted in a continuation of the program pending many months of legal action. At one point, Trump said he would support a protection for Dreamers provided that is combined with funding for his border wall —a proposal which went nowhere. Dreamers and supporters have advocated for “clean” Dream Act passage, without amendment, and without being held hostage to funding for more detentions, deportations, border enforcement or cuts to legal immigration.

NNIRR condemned the decision of the Administration to end DACA, and vowed to fight along with DACA recipients, their families, supporters and allies for the continuation not only of this status, for the protection from deportation of all undocumented immigrants.

  • Prior to the rescission, over 400 businesses signed a letter to Donald Trump, to signal their support for the DACA program.

2017: Trump Administration ends DACA

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE END OF DACA? A community advisory in several languages, from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center

  • NNIRR Fact Sheet on the ending of DACA
  • Dream Act of 2017 introduced: July 20, 2017  A new bipartisan bill, entitled the DREAM Act of 2017, S. 1615, was introduced into Congress. The bill, cosponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) sought to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented youth who meet a certain set of requirements. This bill would essentially put the main ideas of DACA into law through congress, an action that is necessary considering the legal action soon to be taken against DACA in court.
  • The National Immigration Law Center table comparing provisions of the 2010 and 2017 Dream Acts and DACA. You can find that comparison here.
  • The Migration Policy Institute DACA fact sheet and potential impacts of the new DREAM Act of 2017 (July, 2017).
  • The Huffington Post has published an article discussing the difficulties of signing the new DREAM Act into law due to President Trump’s stated refusal to sign it (July 20, 2017).
  • Politico released an article discussing Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s assertion that the Trump administration will not support DACA if it goes to court (July 12, 2017).

Officials from ten states have threatened to take legal action against DACA if the Trump Administration does not begin to end the program starting September 5th. Read more about this issue here.

2016: The Supreme Court Split Ruling Against DACA & DAPA 

The Supreme Court held a split decision on the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), as well as the Deferred Action for Parent Accountability (DAPA) policies. This tie means that both programs will be put on hold, and DHS will not accept any new DACA+/DAPA applications. The original DACA/DAPA programs of October 2012 are unaffected by the ruling and will remain in place.

  • Click here to read NNIRR’s official statement about the Supreme Court ruling. 

To read more about the Supreme Court Ruling, please see the following articles:

Background to the Supreme Court Case United States vs. Texas (The Challenge to President Obama’s DACA+/DACA Program)

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral testimony in the case of United States v. Texas, on April 18, 2016. This is the lawsuit that led to an injunction against implementation of “DAPA/DACA+”.

Click here to read the transcript of the April 18 oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

2014: Obama expands the program to DAPA, (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Residents aka Deferred Action for Parent Accountability); a number of states immediately sue and an injunction is placed on the program.

2012: In response to failure to pass the DREAM Act (which would have granted a path to citizenship for youth and young adults brought to then US as children), President Obama issues an executive memorandum to give eligible individuals a 2 year deferral from deportation and work permits.

2001 – 2012:  after a failed initial Dream bill in 2001/2002, students and immigrant rights advocates begin organizing a movement to fight for a path to citizenship for youth and young adults brought to the US as children. This included simultaneous efforts to bring relief also to family members of Dreamers, and push for broader immigration reforms.