What does DACA mean for Dreamers?

Will nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants lose protection from deportation?

That decision is up to Congress, the Trump administration said Tuesday. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Pulling the plug on DACA overturns President Barack Obama’s signature immigration policy and could upend the lives of more than three quarters of a million people.

But the Trump administration gave Congress a six-month window to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.

DACAWith the news that roughly 800,000 people across the country would begin losing their protected status under DACA, which offered work permits and temporary reprieves from deportation to young undocumented immigrants, the program’s beneficiaries are now scrambling to prepare for the various ways the decision could upend their lives.

Living and working in the United States are the two privileges most often associated with DACA. But for many recipients, those are merely the first dominoes to fall if Congress does not pass a replacement. The shutdown of the program could reverberate far beyond those privileges and topple the many others that DACA protection can confer, from state-sponsored health coverage and financial aid to driver’s licenses and professional credentials. The loss of these things could, in turn, disrupt recipients’ abilities to go to school, support their families and keep a roof over their heads.

The term Dreamers comes from the proposed DREAM Act, which offered legal status in return for attending college or joining the military. It was first introduced in 2001. The latest version was voted down in the Senate in December 2010. Losing the ability to work legally would mean, for an estimated 450,000 people, forfeiting the health insurance and other benefits offered through employers, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Another 290,000 recipients, the center said, may lose their eligibility for state-subsidized health coverage when their protection expires.  Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest news and information.

What does DACA do?
DACA recipients have been able to come out of the shadows and obtain valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. They also pay income taxes.The program didn’t give them a path to become US citizens or even legal permanent residents — something immigrant rights advocates have criticized, saying it left people in limbo.

Who’s been protected by DACA?
These are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, a group often described as Dreamers. Since the Obama administration began DACA in 2012, 787,580 people have been approved for the program, according to the latest government figures. To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the US before age 16 and have lived there since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.

What information and fees were required for DACA?
DACA applicants had to provide evidence they were living in the United States at the prescribed times, proof of education and confirmation of their identities. They also had to pass background, fingerprint and other checks that look at identifying biological features.

The fee to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, including employment authorization and biometric services, was $495.

How long does the deferral last?
Under DACA, Dreamers were able to apply to defer deportation and legally reside in the US for two years. After that, they could apply for renewal. By March 31, 240,700 people had applied for renewal in the 2017 fiscal year and nearly 800,000 renewals had been approved over the life of the program.

“We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” said President Donald Trump. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.”

Department of Homeland Security officials said Tuesday that they will continue to accept renewal applications for the next month.  The Trump administration says it’s phasing out DACA in a way that will provide “minimum disruption.”

DACA NewsOfficials won’t accept new applications to the program, but for current DACA recipients, protections remain in effect for now.
According to officials:
• Work permits issued under DACA will be honored until they expire.
• New DACA applications already received by Tuesday will be processed.
• Anyone whose status is set to expire by March 5, 2018, has a month to apply for a new two-year permit, and those renewal applications will be processed.
Some lawmakers have proposed a bipartisan measure that could protect Dreamers from deportation now that the Trump administration is ending DACA.
But a number of past efforts to protect the Dreamers — widely seen as the most sympathetic group of undocumented immigrants — have stalled in Congress, and it’s unclear whether a new initiative would be able to gather the momentum it needs to pass. If Congress does not pass a measure protecting DACA recipients, nearly 300,000 people could begin to lose their status and be at risk for deportation in 2018. And more than 320,000 would lose their status from January to August 2019.