In September, a federal court ruled that DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was unconstitutional. With the Biden administration expected to contest the ruling, the future status of DACA and the fate of almost 600,000 DACA recipients will depend on the unelected judges of the federal court system. DACA, which suspends deportations and allows work permits for some immigrants who entered the country without papers before the age of 16, has been threatened since it was implemented in 2012. While we may not have the power to influence a Supreme Court ruling on the ultimate status of DACA, we all have the ability to support—or ignore—movements fighting for justice for immigrant communities from around the world (Yahoo! News).
• Find a local organization led by and fighting for members of immigrant communities.
• Donate to the Freedom for Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Bond Fund.
• Support Movimiento Cosecha’s efforts to win dignity and protection for all undocumented immigrants in the United States.
What is DACA?
Former President Barack Obama created DACA with an executive order in 2012 as a “temporary stopgap” measure after his administration was criticized for anti-immigrant policies and Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act (White House).
Who is eligible for DACA?
Undocumented immigrants were eligible for DACA if they:
• Were under 31 on June 15, 2012
• Had arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
• Had been in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007
• Were in school, had a diploma, or were an honorably discharged veteran
• Had not been convicted of a felony, three misdemeanors, or a “significant misdemeanor”
• Were not considered a “national security threat” and
• Paid $495
Is DACA a path to citizenship?
No. DACA recipients received work permits, allowing them to legally work in the United States. They weren’t offered legal status, permanent residency, or citizenship. They also weren’t exempt from deportation; their deportations were simply “deferred.” Most immigrants couldn’t meet DACA’s restrictive criteria. Some were apprehensive about providing their personal and biometric information to the government in case DACA was repealed, which would aid the government in tracking them down. Others couldn’t pay the expensive fee to register, especially since undocumented immigrants are forced to work under the table (NBC News).
What’s the history of DACA?
The Trump administration terminated DACA before the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that this termination was conducted improperly, reinstating the program. In 2021, a federal judge ruled that DACA was unconstitutional, allowing current DACA recipients to remain on the program but blocking new enrollees. In September, that same judge ruled that despite a new DACA rule created by the Biden administration to “improve its chances of surviving legal muster,” the program remains unconstitutional (LA Times, Yahoo! News).
What happens next?
With the Biden administration expected to appeal the ruling, the future status of DACA may depend on the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. DACA was created as a “temporary” measure until Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform. That reform has never arrived. DACA was meant to shield a minority of undocumented immigrants for a limited period of time, created by a President eager to deflect criticism for being the “Deporter in Chief” (NPR). Some advocates are urging Congress to finally overhaul a punitive, broken immigration system through federal law (Yahoo! News).
Experts advise current DACA recipients to periodically check in with an immigration attorney to see if they qualify for any other visas or programs that might cover them should DACA be struck down (MSN). We can all take action to fight for real immigration justice: the empowerment of immigrant communities and an end to immigration incarceration and deportation in general.
Find a local organization led by and fighting for members of immigrant communities. Support them with your time, money, or other resources. Donate to the Freedom for Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Bond Fund so someone can get released from immigration detention, hire an attorney, and gather evidence to fight their deportation. Support Movimiento Cosecha’s efforts to win dignity and protection for all undocumented immigrants in the United States. As Arizona’s Repeal Coalition put it, the only humane demand to make of a system that criminalizes and attacks millions of its own residents is to insist on “the freedom to live, love, and work anywhere you please” (AZ Daily Sun).
• A federal judge has ruled DACA unconstitutional, with the Biden administration expected to appeal.
• DACA was created as a temporary measure to provide work permits for and suspend the deportation of some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.
• We don’t have to wait for the Supreme Court to support immigrant activists in our communities and across the country.