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Basic Facts About DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals)

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that has protected thousands of young undocumented immigrants from getting deported. 

There is a lot of confusion at the moment with what will happen with DACA, whether the program will continue or will be terminated by the government, and many people are frustrated with the lack of answers they are receiving. We know that this is a hard time for immigrants, but with some help, you'll be able to understand what your options are.

If you are unsure what to do regarding your new or renewal DACA application and are looking for an answer, this article should provide some guidance for you. Also, we will examine what’s currently going on regarding DACA and what the future could hold for the program. 

What is DACA?

The DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created on June 15, 2012 through executive action by then-President Obama. The purpose of the program was to protect eligible immigrant youth, brought into the United States as children, having unlawful presence, from deportation.

DACA protection lasts two years at a time, but it is renewable. So, once it runs out, young people can apply for it again and receive the same benefits it offers. 

It’s important to note also that the DACA program does not by itself provide a pathway to legal permanent residency or citizenship; this will have to be done separately later. 

The original DACA program issued by President Obama included the following:

  • Allowed young undocumented immigrants the ability to remain in the US and avoid deportation 
  • Helped young undocumented immigrants obtain work permits for two years
  • The program was renewable based on good behavior

The program allowed immigrants to apply based on these requirements:

  • All applicants had to be younger than 31 years old on June 15, 2012
  • They must have arrived in the United States when they were younger than 16 years old
  • They must have continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 to the present time

What happened to DACA?

In September of 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would start to phase out the DACA program. Several court cases helped prevent the complete removal of DACA, and in 2020 the Supreme Court ruled that any attempt to repeal DACA violated federal law. 

Nevertheless, President Trump managed to put a few restrictions in place, including:

  • No new initial requests for DACA would be accepted
  • Existing DACA recipients could apply for 1-year renewals; previously it was for 2-year renewals
  • Any renewal had to be made 150 to 120 days before the expiration of the original grant of DACA status; previously a renewal application would be considered even if it was up to one year late
  • All requests by DACA recipients for travel outside of the United States were denied except for cases considered exceptional circumstances

What is the current status of DACA?

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security cannot process any new DACA applications. However, renewal applications are being processed. 

Immigrants currently enrolled in the DACA program still retain the ability to stay and work in the country. 

As of April, 2022, DACA renewals may be filed electronically. Those who hold DACA can continue to renew their deferred action and work permits. 

The government is still not granting first-time applications or applications from those whose DACA has lapsed for more than one year.

The Biden administration has issued new rules and is trying to address the concerns of many immigrants. The final future for DACA will be decided by the Supreme Court next year, but until then, no new applications are being processed. 

President Biden is, however, moving to strengthen the program, but a recent court ruling in Texas has sparked uncertainty for thousands of people who are unsure whether they’ll be able to raise families, work, study, and live securely in the US. 

So, what should you do if you’ve already sent in your initial DACA application?

Your application won’t be granted but instead will be put on hold. You won’t be able to get a refund for the fee you paid, but your application won’t be rejected either. This could change in the following months, so stay up to date by following the DACA page on the USCIS government website. 

If you’re unsure what to do next concerning DACA, consider talking to an experienced team of immigration lawyers to help you figure out the best steps. 

The team at Meimaris Law would be delighted to guide you to make a decision regarding your path forward with the DACA program and your future in the US. 

We are experienced professionals when it comes to immigration law, and we will make the process as easy as possible for you and your family. 

Get in touch for a free consultation with our team today to start talking about your DACA application or renewal.

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