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DACA, Explained by the Experts

— May 31, 2022

More than 79 percent of DACA recipients are from Mexico. California has the highest number of DACA recipients of any state.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that allows specific individuals who entered the United States illegally as children and meet program requirements to apply for deferred action. It is a form of administrative deportation relief. The purpose of the program was to protect eligible immigrant youth who arrived in the United States as children from deportation.

Individuals granted DACA can renew their status and apply for work authorization. They can apply for a driver’s license, a social security number, and a work permit. However, the program does not provide them with a path to citizenship or official legal status. An immigration lawyer can offer further guidance with your case.

The DACA Recipients

In July 2012, former President Barack Obama announced that he was signing an executive order. Following his directive to the Department of Justice to defer legal action against some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, some immigrants became eligible for DACA. A memorandum from the Homeland Security secretary formally established the policy.

As a result, they could work or attend school in the United States on two-year renewable permits. Unlike the proposed DREAM Act, the classification did not grant those people permanent legal status, but it did prevent them from being forced to leave the country where they were born and raised.

There were 590,070 DACA recipients as of June 30, 2021, according to U.S. citizenship and immigration services.

The Migration Policy Institute’s (MPI) profile of DACA recipients in the United States reveals more about DACA recipients and what they do. According to MPI, they are primarily middle-skilled and enrolled in school or working in various occupations.

More than 79 percent of DACA recipients are from Mexico. California has the highest number of DACA recipients of any state.

What Are the DACA Eligibility Requirements?

Below are the major requirements that DACA applicants must meet. However, meeting them does not guarantee approval:

  • They arrived in the United States before they turned 16
  • Have resided in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007
  • They were under 31yrs on June 15, 2012
  • They were present in the United States when they applied for deferred action with USCIS on June 15, 2012
  • Are currently enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military
  • Have never been convicted of serious disorderly conduct, a felony, and do not present a risk to national security.

Renewal of DACA

According to USCIS, DACA holders should apply for renewal 120 to 150 days before their existing DACA expires. Applicants must not have left the United States without a legitimate travel document on or after August 15, 2012, to be eligible for a DACA renewal.

Sign saying "Immigrants make America Great" and one saying "No Hate, No Fear, Refugees are Welcome here;" image by Nitish Meena, via
Sign saying “Immigrants make America Great” and one saying “No Hate, No Fear, Refugees are Welcome here;” image by Nitish Meena, via

Also, the applicant must have lived continuously in the U.S. since filing their most recent accepted DACA application. Finally, they must not have been charged with a felony or a major violation.

DACA Recipients Get Priority Parole

Individuals with DACA can currently apply for advanced parole and travel with it. Advance parole is available to DACA recipients for humanitarian, employment, and educational reasons. DACA recipients must show that their need to travel fits under one of these categories to qualify.

How to Make the DACA Application Process Easier

Applying for DACA can be easier when working with a good immigration attorney. DACA is a Band-Aid solution to the plight of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth. Without DACA, these young people will be unable to work legally in the United States and may be deported to countries where they have not lived since childhood.

Thanks to DACA, they can finally get legal jobs, move up the socioeconomic ladder, and most importantly, have enough stability in their lives to continue their education and plan for the future. A skilled immigration attorney can help protect your rights and future in the United States.

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