DACA and Dreamers
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has transformed the lives of nearly 800,000 of young immigrants since it was introduced by President Obama in 2012. It offered safety from deportation, a work permit, and a chance to get a driver’s license, buy a home, and make a life in the U.S.
In Massachusetts, about 19,000 people were eligible, and another 4,000 could qualify in the future.
But DACA never protected everyone who needed it; it only covered childhood arrivals prior to June 2007, and it required enormous trust in the goodwill of the U.S. government.
In September 2017, President Trump announced he would end DACA within six months. He called on Congress to find a long-term solution for Dreamers, but multiple efforts to reach agreement failed.
The clock is ticking
Due to injunctions granted in pending lawsuits, since late January 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has continued to accept DACA renewal applications. However, the Trump administration had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and decide the fate of DACA once and for all. We expect a decision by June 2020 (see possible scenarios and advocacy needs).
It is more urgent than ever for Congress to step up and protect DACA recipients and all Dreamers, including more recent arrivals. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act in June 2019, but the bill and a separate DREAM Act are both stalled in the Senate.
MIRA stands firmly with Dreamers in their push for recognition as full-fledged Americans, and we are committed to supporting DACA recipients to ensure they keep their protections active.
In the meantime, we strongly encourage DACA recipients to renew their status, especially if it is due to expire in 2020. Individual circumstances vary, but in our judgment, in most cases, the benefits of DACA outweigh any risks from renewing.
Fear and other factors had led DACA enrollment to fall in Massachusetts even before September 2017, to about 5,900. Nationwide, the vast majority of DACA recipients have kept renewing, but the total number of active DACA holders has dropped, from a post-injunction peak of 704,000 in July 2018 to 687,000 as of December 2018. Nearly 5,000 Dreamers with pending renewals have seen their DACA expire, leaving them exposed.
If you need help with the DACA application or the fee, MIRA can help you! Email our Citizenship team. United We Dream’s RenewMyDACA.com has lots of information to help you. If you can’t afford the $495 fee, MIRA has a DACA Renewal Fund; ask when you come in for your paperwork, or email us.
For authoritative, regularly updated information on DACA litigation, see the National Immigration Law Center.
We also recommend this excellent overview of DACA’s positive impact on beneficiaries and the whole economy.
• What should DACA beneficiaries do if they have a criminal conviction or pending case? (Immigrant Legal Resource Center)