DACA Program. Illustration.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

DACA Program Turns 10: A Timeline Of The Celebrated ‘Dreamers Act’

The DACA program has helped more than 800,000 dreamers be allowed to work and live in the country without fears of deportation, opening a potential path to citizenship.

This year marks a decade since former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as the DACA program, in an executive order that granted deportation protection to hundreds of thousands of young migrants who had been brought to the country irregularly as children.

However, the DACA program emerged as a temporary and not permanent measure, which is why it was issued from the White House as an executive order and was not discussed in the Senate. And despite having benefited thousands of young migrants, the DACA program has not resolved their immigration status.

On its tenth anniversary, the future of the program is at risk from a lawsuit from a Texas appeals court to try to end DACA. It is for this reason that dreamers and community leaders continue to demand a permanent and definitive solution to be able to obtain American citizenship without any more legal obstacles.

What happened to the DACA program since its implementation?

After its creation and implementation in June 2012, the DACA program, also called ‘Dreamers Act’, has managed to generate a great change for migrant communities that had children living in the country for several years, but did not have legal immigration status. It has clearly been one of the best changes and most profitable advances that have happened in the immigrant community of the United States.

However, in September 2017 during the Donald Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to eliminate the DACA program. Four months later, a San Francisco court annulled the cancellation and ordered the reactivation of the DACA program, allowing recipients to continue renewing their permits, but new applications to the program were not allowed.

In 2018, the DACA program received a second lawsuit filed by nine states led by Texas. The federal court in the south of the country that carried out the judicial process ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately suspend the granting of new work permits to applicants who had never registered. This order issued from the federal court of the Southern District of Texas affected some 80,000 dreamers who applied to enter the program.

This lawsuit continues with its ongoing appeal, on July 6 the hearing will be held before the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, where the lawyers of both parties will deliver their arguments. If the court ratifies the lower court’s ruling, the legal battle will be dealt with in the Supreme Court and may last until mid-2023.

What difficulties do beneficiaries of the DACA Program currently face?

Dreamers who are already beneficiaries of the DACA program obtain protection from deportation and a temporary work permit that must be renewed every two years. Considering the bureaucratic times to apply for this permit, Dreamers must apply for it at least six months in advance and eagerly wait for it to arrive on time, otherwise, their jobs are at risk. In addition to that, when applying for American citizenship and improving their immigration status, they must do so by their own means, going through various bureaucratic obstacles.

On the other hand, it is estimated that 700,000 Dreamers applicants are waiting to apply and obtain the benefits of the DACA program. In mid-April of this year, the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had 121,592 work permit applications pending (Form I-765).

“The reality is that millions of undocumented people live in uncertainty (…) we are living in a status where each court, each politician, can change the course of the lives of dreamers and those who seek to be.”

Fragment of a speech by José Muñoz, spokesperson for United We Dream.
DACA Program. Illustration.

What is happening with the DACA program today?

The program managed to benefit and protect more than 800,000 undocumented youth who have managed to complete their studies, obtain their university degrees, buy houses, open their own businesses and provide stability to their families. A decade after its creation, the future of the DACA program is uncertain and the obstacles in the Senate prevent it from being officially decreed by the National Congress.

To solve this problem, comprehensive immigration reform must be carried out that facilitates citizenship for Dreamers who seek to obtain that immigration status. The only way to protect Dreamers and DACA recipients from the threat of deportation is by passing legislation that leads to citizenship. That could end the inordinate fear of deportation and family separation they live with every day.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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