DACA 101: What You Need to Know


DACA is a hot news topic, but what does it mean?

Christina Lee, Staff Writer

DACA: The Basics

An Obama-era policy, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protects undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors from deportation. Those protected must have been under the age of 16 upon arrival and no older than 30 years old when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the immigration policy in June 2012. The policy allows the individuals to receive a two-year permit to work and stay in the United States.

Protecting approximately 800,000 of these “dreamers,” DACA is most widespread in California and Texas with Mexican immigrants making up 65 percent of the program while the percentages of El Salvadoran and Honduran participants follow close behind.

While the program does not guarantee citizenship to the immigrants, those protected still pay taxes, work legally, and can enroll in colleges.

Despite President Trump’s inflammatory remarks aimed at immigrants, studies prove that the undocumented immigrants do not impair the United States, especially economically—the program has removed immigrants from unemployment and poverty. Additionally, there is no evidence that those protected by DACA are more likely to commit crimes, contradicting the stereotype that portray undocumented immigrants as criminals.

DACA in Danger

In September 2017, Trump announced the end of DACA with the Department of Homeland Security refusing future applications for the program. However, Judge William Alsup of San Francisco rendered Trump’s decision illegal in January 2018, ordering a continuation of application renewals. Judge Alsup said that the “rescission was arbitrary and capricious,” drawing much discontent from the conservative side.

Lawmakers tackled the issues of immigration and government funding on Jan. 19, the deadline of the DACA decision. Amid the DACA twist-and-turns, the immigration issue divided the Republicans and Democrats as the deadline approached. Congressional Democrats showed support for a clean DACA bill–only addressing DACA–as opposed to their political counterparts who wanted the bill to include a border wall along with DACA.

The wall proposed by Trump would run along the southern border of the United States and be funded by Mexico. Claiming that the border would be made of “some fencing,” Trump plans on keeping drugs and human trafficking out of the United States.

On Jan. 16, Trump, confusing the situation, agreed to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal for a clean bill, inciting hasty opposition from his Republican counterparts. Despite Trump’s slip-up, the Republicans remained adamant about including a bill for border security in their budget.

Along with conflict over the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the lack of resolution regarding the immigration issue signaled a government shutdown as both parties continued to disagree.

A Change of Mind

Midnight on Jan. 20 marked the government shutdown. Eventually, Trump signed a temporary bill ending the three-day shutdown until its expiration next month. Frustration brewed among the Democrats as the government passed another short-term bill and as the future of DACA remained disputed.

Just when the immigration bill met more obstructions following Chuck Schumer’s withdrawal of funding for Trump’s wall, Trump contradicted his previous political statements as he offered DACA recipients a pathway for citizenship in 10 to 12 years. In exchange, he demanded $25 billion for the wall and the end of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. In its place, the bill would create a new visa for immigrants from underrepresented countries, giving them three-year work permits.

The proposal served as an attempt to entice the Democrats; a senior White House official described the bill as “right down the center in terms of public opinion.” On the other hand, the possibility of 1.8 million immigrants residing lawfully in America brought opposition from conservatives.

DACA must meet its fate on March 5, making Trump’s offer a possible reality. Given that a decision is not yet reached, DACA recipients face possible deportation.