Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy implemented by the Obama administration that provides work licenses and protection from deportation for unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. when they were under 16 years old. However, the Trump administration announced on Sept. 5 that DACA would come to an end.
Because of the specific age requirements for the program, most recipients of DACA, nicknamed “Dreamers,” are still young adults. Recipients of the protected status had to be 31 years old or younger as of June 2012, who had come to the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday and continuously resided in the U.S. since June 2007. Recipients were also required to either be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or be honorably discharged U.S. military veterans.
The elimination of DACA will affect nearly 800,000 young adults in the next two years, many of who are students.
Jordan Mazareigos, Oklahoma State University senior, is on track to graduate and has a job secured. Yet his future remains in question with the possibility of being deported to a country he has little to no memory of.
Mazareigos was given the opportunity to get a job and go to college when DACA was instated in 2012, allowing qualified immigrant children to legally stay and work in the U.S. However, with the program coming to an end, his future remains unclear.
DACA was originally established in June 2012, by Executive Branch memorandum (a type of executive action.) Former President Barack Obama implemented the program after Congress had rejected it multiple times. Since then, there have been many who questioned its constitutionality.
The controversy surrounding the policy is what drove its shutdown, according to a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch,” stated Sessions in the Department of Justice letter.
Over the next few years, the Department of Homeland Security will phase out the program. Current DACA holders will retain their status until it expires, and any initial or DACA renewal requests that were filed before Sept. 5 will still be considered.
President Trump is giving Congress six months to come up with a legalized version of DACA or a replacement, according to The New York Times.
Protests have broken out in Washington and throughout the country against the decision to end the legislation that protects Dreamers. As of Sept. 25, Republican senators have proposed a replacement known as the SUCCEED Act (Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation). Both the SUCCEED Act and the Dream Act, a bill proposed by Democrats, are currently being debated.