The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided opportunities for over 800,000 young immigrants in the United States. It offers protection from deportation and access to benefits such as work permits, driver’s licenses, and educational opportunities.
However, maintaining and protecting the status can be complex due to its unstable history and evolving requirements. This guide will explore the essential information and steps you need to take to safeguard your status effectively.
Understanding DACA & Its Importance
The DACA program is for young immigrants who entered America without documentation during their childhood. DACA was introduced in 2012 by President Barack Obama to safeguard them from deportation and provide them with various benefits.
It offers security and stability to undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children. These individuals, called “Dreamers,” have grown up in the United States and consider it their home, even though they lack legal status. Also, it allows them to live without constant fear of deportation, enabling them to contribute to society fully.
Benefits Of The DACA Program
Through DACA, Dreamers gain access to important benefits. They can obtain Work Permits, which allow them to seek employment legally, pursue higher education, and support themselves and their families.
With Work Permits, they can access better job opportunities, earn higher wages, and contribute to the country’s economy. It also provides them with social security, enabling them to establish credit, open bank accounts, and participate fully in the financial system.
Additionally, they are eligible for driver’s licenses, allowing them to drive and travel within the country legally. This enhances their mobility, expands their employment prospects, and facilitates their daily lives. It also provides a sense of normalcy and integration into American society.
Moreover, it protects individuals from immediate deportation, allowing them to remain with their families, pursue their education, and contribute to their communities. The program helps strengthen families and promotes unity by preventing separations and preserving social ties.
It is a vital program that provides a lifeline to thousands of young immigrants who have grown up in the United States. It offers them protection, opportunities, and a chance to fulfill their potential. While DACA is not a permanent solution, its importance cannot be overstated. It allows Dreamers to build their lives, pursue their dreams, and contribute to the diverse fabric of American society.
The Current Status Of DACA
As of the current status, the program continues to face uncertainty and legal challenges. While the program itself has not been terminated, its future remains uncertain. Here is an overview of the current state of DACA.
In 2017, the Trump administration announced its intention to phase out the program. They argued that the program was an overreach of executive authority. This led to legal challenges, resulting in federal courts issuing nationwide injunctions to block the rescission temporarily.
Despite attempts to end the program, the recipients have been able to renew their status. The program allows for the renewal of Work Permits and protection from deportation for two years. However, new initial applications have been on hold since 2017.
Since the attempted rescission, multiple legal challenges have arisen. The fate of DACA has been in the hands of federal courts, with conflicting rulings at various levels. These legal battles have left DACA uncertain, with its long-term future hanging in the balance.
Supreme Court Decision
In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA was done improperly. It cited that the administration failed to provide an adequate justification. This decision temporarily relieved DACA recipients but did not resolve the long-term legal status of the program.
The future of DACA lies in the hands of Congress. Efforts have been made to pass legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, such as the DREAM Act. However, progress on comprehensive immigration reform has been slow, and legislative solutions for DACA have yet to be fully realized. On October 31, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final ruling to continue the program under the current policy. However, no new applicants will be entertained because of the July 2021 court ruling.
While DACA remains in effect, its long-term status is uncertain. Legal challenges and political debates continue to shape its future. DACA recipients and advocates are pushing for a permanent solution to provide a more stable and secure legal status and citizenship path. The ultimate resolution of DACA’s status will depend on the actions taken by the courts and Congress in the coming months and years.
Requirements For DACA Eligibility
To be eligible for the DACA program, individuals must meet specific requirements set forth by the USCIS. The requirements for DACA eligibility include the following.
- Age Requirement. The applicant must have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012. This means they must have been born on June 16, 1981, or later.
- Arrival In The United States. The applicant must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and have resided there since June 15, 2007. Continuous residence means they have not left the U.S. for an extended period or engaged in unauthorized travel.
- Physical Presence. The applicant must be physically present in the United States when applying for DACA and during the application process. They should also maintain a physical presence throughout their DACA status.
- Education Or Military Service. The applicant must be enrolled in school or have graduated from high school. They should have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate. They should have an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces.
- No Felony Convictions. The applicant must not have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors. Certain criminal offenses, including drug-related offenses and driving under the influence (DUI), may disqualify an individual from DACA eligibility.
- No Threat To National Security. The applicant must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Meeting these requirements does not guarantee approval for DACA. Each case is evaluated individually, and USCIS has discretion in determining eligibility. Additionally, DACA is subject to change. Dreamers must consult an immigration attorney for guidance and assistance with the application process.
How To Protect Your DACA Status
Protecting your DACA status is necessary to maintain your legal presence and the benefits it provides. Here are some steps and strategies to help protect your DACA status.
Keep updated on DACA policies and requirements by regularly checking official USCIS websites and consulting reputable immigration attorneys or advocacy organizations.
Renew On Time
Be proactive in renewing your DACA status by submitting your application between 150 and 120 days before your current status expires.
Maintain Continuous Presence
Adhere to local, state, and federal laws, avoiding criminal activities or behaviors that may result in arrests or convictions. Likewise, be mindful of your online presence and activity on social media platforms. Avoid posting content that could be misinterpreted or raise questions about your eligibility or compliance with DACA requirements.
Seek Legal Assistance
Consult an immigration attorney handling DACA cases to understand your rights, navigate the application and renewal process, and seek support if needed.
Document Your Presence
Maintain a record of documents that establish your continuous presence in the United States since June 15, 2007. These documents may include school records, medical records, employment records, lease agreements, utility bills, tax returns, or financial statements. They can serve as evidence of your physical presence if needed.
Following these steps will help you proactively protect your DACA status, ensuring your legal presence and the benefits it provides. Remember that each individual’s situation may vary, so it’s important to seek personalized advice from an immigration attorney based on your circumstances.
Additional Resources & Support
Beyond DACA, Dreamers must explore other avenues for legal status or permanent residency. Working closely with immigration attorneys from Lincoln-Goldfinch Law can provide insights into alternative options and long-term strategies. They can assess your situation, determine eligibility for other programs, and guide you toward a path to citizenship or permanent residency. Here are three important additional resources and support options for individuals seeking legal status:
Immigration Legal Services
Seek assistance from reputable immigration legal services providers. These include nonprofit organizations, law firms, or legal clinics specializing in immigration law. These organizations can offer advice, help with applications and petitions, and guide navigating the complex immigration system.
Community Organizations & Advocacy Groups
Connect with local community organizations and advocacy groups that focus on immigration issues. These groups often provide resources, workshops, and legal clinics to assist individuals in understanding their rights and pursuing legal status. They can also offer valuable community support and connect individuals with other resources.
Government Agencies & Websites
Utilize resources from Government agencies like USCIS and the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). These websites offer information on immigration forms, policies, and procedures. They can guide eligibility requirements, application processes, and updates on immigration policies.
It’s important to research and verify the credibility of any resource or organization before seeking assistance. Consulting with an immigration attorney from Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is recommended to ensure you receive accurate and reliable information tailored to your immigration situation.
Protecting your DACA status requires proactive steps, timely renewals, and adherence to eligibility requirements. Dreamers must understand the program’s limitations, seek legal guidance, and stay informed about changes in legislation. You can maximize your chances of maintaining your status and securing a stable future in the United States. Remember, experienced immigration professionals can make a significant difference in navigating the complexities of immigration law and safeguarding your dreams.
Should you have additional questions about your DACA status, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
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