By Francesca Postigo
What is DACA? It stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
This national immigration policy allows individuals that came to the U.S as minors to qualify for a work permit over the next two years. However, recently during a court trial in Texas, Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against DACA, consequently stopping any new enrollees from entering the program. Despite this new ruling, he is allowing current participants to stay in the program while the issue is being dealt with. This means that recipients can renew their permit every two years even though new enrollees are blocked from this process. Since DACA was established in 2012 it has been challenged at various times. In 2018 President Trump terminated DACA and in 2020 a closely divided Supreme Court ruled to reinstate DACA. In the past, Congress has failed to pass the laws that will address the current immigration system issues in any form. Since the Obama administration, however, the Biden-Administration has depended on the DACA program to help the “Dreamers,” or recipients of the program, to stay in the U.S with a work permit that must be renewed every two years. The Biden-Administration has stated to preserve this program to aid the “Dreamers.” Many rely on this program, the majority coming from Mexico (approximately 616,030). While the Biden-Administration acknowledges the “Dreamers’” contribution to this country, “only Congress can provide permanent protection,” says Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. With his support of the inclusion of immigration reform, Mayorkas urges “Congress to act swiftly to provide “Dreamers” with the legal status they need and deserve.”
In order to be a recipient of a work permit in the DACA program, one must pass certain qualifications. These include having arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, graduated or currently in school, stayed in the U.S for fifteen consecutive years since June 15, 2007, and not convicted of a felony or posing any threat to national security.
This program has aided the lives of many undocumented young immigrants and their families. For example, Luis Ayala and Fernando Chang-Muy, contributor and author of A future in limbo: Why Congress must act on DACA now are both immigrants who came to the U.S for a better life. And while they had amazing opportunities by coming here, they grew up in constant fear of being deported. Though Chang-Muy gained help from the CAA, Ayala still remains in fear, as a DACA recipient, because of the unknown outcome of the program.
Even though around 700,000 recipients of DACA are protected, there are millions of other “Dreamers” that need the protection as well if they hope to pursue a life in the United States. With immigration issues becoming more prevalent due to the recent occurrence at the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas at which 14,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, were held under the bridge under a rule that was set in place during Trump’s presidency that has remained in place throughout the Biden administration. It has become apparent that immigration reform is becoming an increasingly pressing topic of discussion. In order to reform the flawed system, Congress must act soon. Without the help of Congress, the future of many “Dreamers” is left uncertain.