The US government under President Donald Trump has restored the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrants entering the United States of America as youth, following the orders of a federal judge.
The announcement is a huge victory for many young people who have been unable to apply for renewals and fresh applications since September 2017, when Trump ended the DACA program. The Trump administration has argued for a long time that the program is unconstitutional. They were against the idea of extending support to illegal immigrants and were concerned about setting the wrong precedent.
However, complying with the orders of a federal judge, Nicholas Garaufis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was asked to issue a public notice within 3 days of the passing of the order. The notice is intended to let the public learn that DHS would be accepting new applications, petitions for 2-year renewals, and requests for permission to temporarily leave the United States per the original terms of the program during the Obama administration.
New DACA Applicants
The program currently protects over 650,000 people from deportation and deems them eligible for work permits. The DACA was started in 2012 under the Obama Administration. It allowed some immigrants brought into the country as children via illegal means to work and be exempted from deportation.
These children can apply for a renewable 2-year Visa that will allow them to work legally in the United States and saves them from constant fear of deportation. However, the program does not provide a legal status or put the recipients on the road to citizenship or permanent residency.
DACA started as an executive action taken by the Obama Administration in 2012. It protects and qualifies young people termed as ‘Dreamers’ who have arrived in the country illegally. They are granted work authorization, access to Medicare, and a social security number.
DACA was terminated in September 2017 by Trump’s administration but the Supreme Court ruled in June of 2020 that the termination procedure did not follow proper guidelines thereby forcing the government to restore DACA to the state it was before September 2017.
The people approved for the DACA program need to pass some mandatory background checks and should remain eligible to renew their applications. The new President-elect, Joe Biden, has also promised that he would reinstate the DACA when he assumes office in January 2021.
So, who qualifies for DACA? Here is the summary of the mandatory eligibility criteria.
- Applicants who have lived in the United States since 2007 and came into the United States before they turned 16 years old.
- Applicants who were under 31 years old before June 15 2012, when DACA came into effect.
- Applicants need to be in school, have a high school diploma, or be a military veteran.
- They must have a ‘mostly clean’ criminal record.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, an estimated number of about 1.3 million people have now become eligible for DACA since the termination of the program in 2017. These people can now send in their applications for the first time. Those immigrants who received approval before September 2017 will have their protection extended from a year to two years with an option to renew their application.