Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On July 15, 2012, President Obama signed a memorandum known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), granting differed action for young immigrants. This law was brought into effect as a result of years and years of promoting the DREAM Act and the many failed attempts to try to pass the bill in Congress. President Obama was in charge of sending out a presidential memorandum, a legal instrument to direct the policies of different departments and agencies of the executive branch of the United States. Deferred action was finally introduced on August 15, 2012 as a discrete concession for deportation relief by the Department of Homeland Security.

To be considered for differed action, a person must:

  • Have entered the United States before turning 16 years of age;
  • Have continuously lived in the United States before or since January 1, 2010 (before President Obama’s executive action announced on November 20, 2014, continuous presence must have been established since June 15, 2007);
  • Be enrolled in a school (at the moment that he or she present their application), have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or be a veteran of the Coast Guard or the United States’ armed forces; and
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, a significant crime, or more than three misdemeanors, and not present a threat to national security or public safety.

A substantial amount of evidence is necessary to prove that the person qualifies for DACA, including:

  • School records
  • Medical records
  • Travel records
  • Employment records
  • Bank records
  • Financial records (taxes, pay stubs, rent receipts, utilities bills)

DACA is available to those who:

  • Are currently in immigration proceedings
  • Currently have an order of removal (deportation)
  • Have never been in immigration proceedings

The cost of the DACA application is $465. The application itself is Form I-821D for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is free, but the applicant must also pay for the application to obtain work authorization and the biometrics (fingerprint) fees.

When DACA was introduced for the first time, applicants were processed and the decisions given within one month, but due to the increasing number of applicants applying for relief from deportation, processing may last up to six months to obtain approval or negative response.

If your application is denied, you can present an appeal, but before doing that, another application can be sent after paying the necessary fees again.

DACA will be given for a three year period due the President Obama’s executive action in immigration, whereas before it was only granted for a two year period. DACA is renewable.

Once the individual is approved for deferred action, he or she can:

  • Work (with a work permit valid for three years)
  • Drive (with a state-issued license)
  • Open a bank account
  • In some states, enroll in a college
  • Travel outside of the United States (for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes) if he or she is granted conditional release

Those who seek to obtain DACA must think carefully about applying for DACA being that it can pose a risk, in particular, to individuals who have committed crimes. If the applicant is in the country illegally and does not fulfill the requirements for deferred action, he or she will be placed in removal proceedings and will have to go to immigration court to fight to stay in the country.

Deferred action does not guarantee legal permanent residency or citizenship, which is what the DREAM act aimed at achieving. Deferred action can be revoked. Even though it is not a comprehensive reform, passing of DACA and the revisions made by President Obama’s executive action are important steps in bringing relief to those who were brought as children to the United States. DACA allows foreign individuals to remain in the United States with the ability to lead normal lives until a bigger measure in immigration reform can be reached.