What Is DACA?

Sep 18, 2017 By Rachel Kenney
Rachel Catherine's picture

President Obama called them the “Dreamers”; children of people who had immigrated to the United States of America illegally.

He believed that these children did not have a say in coming to America, and many of them arrived at such a young age that the US is truly their only home. Sending them back to a place they had never known would be wrong.

The result of Obama’s mission was an executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Rules For DACA

DACA gives protection to undocumented immigrant children already in the United States based on a set of criteria. Some of the requirements are that you came to the US before your 16th birthday, you have lived continuously in the US since June 15, 2007, you are currently in school, or you have earned a high school diploma, and you have never been convicted of a felony. If you meet all of the criteria, DACA will allow you to obtain protection from deportation (being forced to leave the country) and a work permit.

DACA: A Brief History

Normally, when a member of the government wants to create a law, they have to go through a very long process. A bill has to be written. It then has to be approved by both Houses of Congress. Then, the bill goes to the Oval Office, where it must be signed into law by the President. 

Most times, the bill “dies” in Congress, meaning it never gets enough votes to ever make it to the President’s desk. In Obama’s second term, Congress was controlled by the Republican party, and there were disagreements over his immigration policies. This led him to sign DACA as an Executive Order.

Simply, an executive order allows a President to bypass Congress and carry out the goal of a certain bill. However, executive orders are not laws. The problem with executive orders is that they expire. During his campaign, President Trump promised voters that getting rid of DACA would be one of his first orders of business. A couple weeks ago, President Obama’s executive order expired.

What’s Next for the Dreamers?

There is a lot of fear and confusion surrounding this issue, especially in areas of the country that are home to large undocumented immigrant populations. DACA is not completely gone. The program is no longer accepting new applicants, however, people that are already protected under DACA are allowed to reapply for another two year period. Work permits that have already been given to people will still be accepted.

Currently, President Trump is working with Democrats in Congress to come up with a more permanent solution. There is hope that an agreement will be reached to provide permanent protection for the Dreamers and provide them with a path to citizenship.