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5/17 ELA10-1 DACA Explained

DACA Explained

The recipients of DACA are young people who have grown up as Americans, identify themselves as Americans, and many speak only English and have no memory of or connection with the country where they were born. Under current immigration law, most of these young people had no way to gain legal residency even though they have lived in the U.S. most of their lives.

Many DREAMers say they didn’t know they were unauthorized immigrants until they were teenagers—often when they discovered they couldn’t join their peers in getting a driver’s license or filling out financial aid forms for college because they didn’t have Social Security numbers. The DREAM Act would have provided a pathway to U.S. citizenship to certain undocumented youth who go to college and/or serve in the military while maintaining a good record.

DACA enables certain people who came to the U.S. as children and meet several key guidelines to request consideration for deferred action. It allows non-U.S. citizens who qualify to remain in the country for two years, subject to renewal. Recipients are eligible for work authorization and other benefits, and are shielded from deportation. The fee to request DACA is $495 every two years.

DACA Recipients

Since DACA began, 787,580 people have been approved for the program. To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and lived here since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012. DACA applicants have to provide evidence they were living in the U.S. at the prescribed times, proof of education and confirmation of their identities. They also had to pass background, fingerprint and other biometric checks that record identifying biological features.

DACA is largely seen as successful and has assisted young people in a variety of ways. A 2017 national study revealed that 91% of DACA respondents are currently employed. Their average hourly wage is $17.46 an hour, up from $10.29 before receiving DACA. Forty-five percent of respondents are currently in school and among those currently in school, 72% are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher. Nearly 80% of respondents said they obtained driver's licenses, which is also a public safety improvement for all people.

DACA recipients include doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, child care providers, cleaners, business owners, restaurant workers, and first responders. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that these positions are an essential part of our workforce. DACA recipients make up 200,000 essential workers, including 27,000 healthcare workers, on the front lines in the fight against this virus. That is why additional papers were recently filed in the Supreme Court case, warning of the risk to public health if DACA recipients were suddenly open to deportation in the middle of a pandemic.

DACA compared to this excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched [miserable] refuse [worthless] of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest (windstorm) tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

DMU Timestamp: April 15, 2021 22:58

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