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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, attorney and former professor.

According to the International Organization of Migration, an estimated of 1.1 million undocumented minors resided in the U.S., undocumented youth make up sixteen percent of the undocumented population. In an action to protect these minors on June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security created a program where certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Is important to know that deferred action does not provide lawful status, nevertheless, the minors are eligible for work authorization.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a kind of administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation, and a work permit.

For the past five years DACA has protected from deportation around 800,000 young undocumented immigrants. The lives of many children were transformed by DACA, the Obama-era federal program. The benefits of DACA was to allow young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to study or work in the United States with no fear of deportation. Many young undocumented immigrants took advantage of DACA benefits, receiving education and securing their future. DACA opened unprecedented opportunities for young people who arrived to the United States illegally as children or overstayed their visas. As it was said on the Washington Post: “It has become, for much of the nation, a new embodiment of the American Dream.”

DACA was an unprecedented and humble program that allow vulnerable young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to feel part of the American Dream and live in the United States with no fear of deportation nor hiding.

However, since September 5, 2017, the current administration in the United States has renounce DACA leaving around 800,000 children’s in a vulnerable position, they no longer will be able to receive the protection of these program. The government is no longer accepting initial requests for DACA, but they will adjudicate initial requests for DACA accepted by September 5, 2017. As September 5, 2017, the government is no longer approving advance parole requests associated with DACA. And the adjudications for DACA renewal requests must be received by Oct. 5, 2017, and they must be from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018.

These children are not guilty of their status and the United States is the home they have known since they were little, like or not they have become part of the United States. Under this new situation that the United States is leaving and particularly the young undocumented immigrants protected by DACA, few questions arise. Who will protect DACA young undocumented immigrants know? Will the immigration authorities’ priorities in DACA young undocumented immigrant’s deportations? Or will they put them at the end of the list? Will the Congress take action to protect DACA young undocumented immigrants? Will it create a law to protect them?

Nevertheless, many American’s, American organizations and government officials have spoken up and rise to be part of the movement to protect DACA young undocumented immigrants, let’s believe actions in favor to protect DACA young undocumented immigrants will be successful. Let’s believe that the American Dream will prevail!

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