The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an Obama-era immigration policy that has been a target of the Trump Administration for the past year. DACA was introduced to help undocumented residents who faced deportation gain government protection and employment eligibility as long as they met requirements for staying in the U.S., and paid a hefty fee of $495. This protection expired after two years unless renewed with an additional $495 fee. The requirements for being a DACA recipient are as follows:
- You were under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012;
- You first came to the United States before your 16th birthday;
- You have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007 until the present;
- You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time you apply;
- You came to the United States without documents before June 15, 2012, or your lawful status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- You are currently studying, or you graduated from high school or earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or military (technical and trade school completion also qualifies); and
- You have NOT been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors (including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind.
As you can see, the restrictions on who is eligible for DACA are pretty tight, and no DACA recipients are felons, criminals, or even guilty of petty misdemeanor crimes, as some of the political rhetoric might suggest. The overall purpose of the program was for DACA recipients to use the extra time DACA had given them in the country to either apply for citizenship or return to their country of origin without being deported.
Last year, the Trump Administration decided to halt the DACA program, preventing new applications and halting any renewals. This decision was part of the Trump Administration’s larger “zero tolerance” immigration platform, which aimed at drastically reducing the number of migrants entering the United States. Amid significant backlash for this decision, the Trump Administration gave the DACA issue to Congress, requesting that they develop a solution for the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients around the country.
Since the Trump Administration’s decision, the DACA population has been in a state of free fall. Employers are hesitant to hire them due to their ambiguous residency status. Students who are DACA recipients are having trouble applying for admission, financial aid, housing, and other aspects of university life. Parents are forced to reevaluate their savings to account for the very real possibility that they and their children may be deported in the near future.
I’ve always felt that the debate over immigration has been painfully ignorant towards the needs of immigrants. Nationalistic rhetoric blinds the public to the fact that immigrants are just people wanting a chance at a better life. Instead, immigrants are often reduced to numbers, or worse, demonized as criminals and thugs. The debate over DACA is just another example of nationalist pride turning a blind eye to a population that is, by all reasonable accounts, American.
As teachers, we will likely see the effects of the outcome of DACA in our classrooms. We may have children whose parents face deportation due to their DACA protection expiring. We may have coworkers who are laid off due to ambiguous residency status. Some of our fellow student teachers may even be DACA recipients without our knowledge. Though the DACA battle is being fought at the national level, its impact will be felt most in American communities around the country.
Here is where I found my information: