DACA, also known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that has received much attention for almost a decade. Yes, DACA has been around for close to ten years! Yet the program is currently in limbo and is under scrutiny, leading Dreamers to wonder what will happen to them if they do not get any immigration benefits after all this time of growing up and living in the U.S.
What Is DACA?
According to USCIS, “on June 15, 2012, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”
The DACA program literally provides mere protection from removal but does not confer any benefit or status beyond that.
It is a program that has quite a few requirements for eligibility, while DACA status is granted for only two years, which means renewal is required every two years as well. Most importantly, DACA does not provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Since as stated previously, it is only a temporary protection from deportation.
What Happens After DACA?
Obviously, remaining on DACA indefinitely is not an ideal way forward for Dreamers. It allows people brought to the U.S. as children to live and work here, but that is where the benefits end.
Lawsuit Challenging DACA
The DACA program is once again under attack. According to the Texas Tribune, “a 2018 lawsuit brought against the federal government by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and eight other states…argue[s] that they will face irreparable harm if the program is allowed to continue. The states have argued that they bear extra costs from providing health care, education, and law enforcement protection to DACA recipients, according to the original complaint.”
The U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, the judge in the case, has said DACA likely violated federal immigration law.
Judge Hanen has still yet to issue a ruling on that case, which makes the need to provide an alternative solution for Dreamers that much more urgent, especially if the ruling is unfavorable.
According to the Seattle Times, “Hanen declined in 2018 to issue a preliminary injunction, saying Texas and other states had waited too long to sue. But in that ruling, he said he believed DACA was unconstitutional and called on Congress to enact legislation shielding people under the program.”
American Dream and Promise Act of 2021
If DACA is ruled unconstitutional, a new legislation called the American Dream and Promise Act may be the last hope for undocumented immigrants. In March, the House passed the act, which would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented residents. Now, it is up to the Senate to decide whether to pass this bill.
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would “provide conditional permanent resident status for 10 years to a qualifying alien who entered the United States as a minor and (1) is deportable or inadmissible, (2) has deferred enforced departure (DED) status or temporary protected status (TPS), or (3) is the child of certain classes of nonimmigrants.”
Lives That Are Impacted by DACA Decision
There are around 700,000 people, brought to the U.S. as children, who are the recipients of the DACA status. These Dreamers include individuals like Jose Loyo, a 23-year-old with a robotics degree who tests engines for Cummins in Columbus, Indiana. He was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was only three years old and is now married to another DACA recipient. “This place is my life, we want to stay where we grew up and keep our dreams,” Loyo said in a USA TODAY interview. “We don’t know much about Mexico. Being told to go back, I can’t imagine that.”
Then there’s Dayann Pazmino, 24, of Austin, Texas. She is applying to graduate school but is treated like a foreign student. She was brought to the U.S. from Ecuador when she was four years old. “The way the previous administration treated us was inhumane and led me to depression, anxiety attacks and mental health issues at the thought that suddenly I’d be told to go back to Ecuador,” she says.
DACA recipient Hans Miguel Esguerra, 29, of San Francisco was brought to the U.S. when he was seven years old by his family. The ambiguous future of DACA has made him feel like he “was doomed, I felt I needed to either get married or find some other way to work outside the U.S. just so as not have this day-to-day fear overtake me.” But even though his girlfriend is a U.S. citizen, he said he “respects marriage too much to marry for papers.”
All of these people have one overarching thing in common, a life they only know here in the U.S. but being threatened with a very real possibility of going back to a country they know nothing about. The USA TODAY interview make the struggle clear:
“The question is, where is home? Is it where your parents are from? Or is it this place where I grew up and where all my memories are even though I have no paperwork to call it my own?”
Financial Impact on the U.S. If DACA Goes Away
The Center for American Process (CAP) estimates that “ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade. Ending DACA would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.”
Due to the evolving nature of this issue, it is a good idea to seek the help of a skilled and experienced Columbus immigration lawyer, to help assess your case and provide a plan for the best path forward.
Sam Shihab & Associates Can Help
If you are an immigrant with any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, visas, green card applications, or any other legal matter, speak at once to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can help you and your family with any immigration issue you face and defend you if you’re accused of violating immigration law.
Our immigration attorneys will review your forms and applications for thoroughness and accuracy. Immigration laws will continually change, but an experienced immigration attorney will always be able to give you the most up-to-date immigration advice you need.
Contact us today!