The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an immigration policy that provides individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as children a pathway to living in the U.S. legally. Specifically, it defers — as the name of the policy implies — any action that might be taken to deport these individuals for a renewable two-year period allows them the chance to apply for U.S. work permits.
Who Is Eligible for DACA?
The recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are individuals — often young people — who were brought to the United States as children and who have grown up in the US as Americans, but who entered the country illegally. In many cases, DACA recipients speak only English and have no memory or experience of the country in which they were born.
Many of these individuals do not discover their illegal status until later in their lives when they attempt to register to vote, for instance, or apply for a driver’s license or for college. Most of these people had no path to gaining legal residency in the country they have always known as their home until DACA was passed.
How Does DACA Work?
DACA allows people, mainly those who came to the U.S. as children and are not American citizens, to stay in the country for two years. The people who are allowed to remain in the country must meet specific guidelines to request consideration for deferred action for childhood arrivals. Those who qualify for DACA are eligible to work, are protected from deportation, and receive other benefits as well. Every two years, the DACA request must be renewed, and there is a fee each time there is an application for renewal.
To be eligible for a DACA request, the applicant must:
- Have arrived in the U.S. before age sixteen
- Have lived in the country since June 15, 2007
- Not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012
- Be able to provide evidence they were living in the U.S. at the prescribed times, including proof of education and confirmation of their identity
- Pass background, fingerprint, and other biometric checks that record identifying biological features
Has DACA Been Beneficial to the U.S.?
DACA has been rewarding to people who want to become U.S. citizens and beneficial to the American workforce in general.
So, how exactly has DACA helped the country? Consider that:
- Since DACA began, 787,580 people have been approved for the program.
- 91% of DACA respondents are currently employed, according to a 2017 national study.
- The average hourly wage for workers has risen over $7 after receiving DACA.
- 45% of DACA recipients are currently enrolled in educational services, with a stunning 72% pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- DACA recipients also consist of over 200,000 essential workers, including 27,000 healthcare workers. These people have been a critical component of the country’s fight against COVID-19.
Simply put, DACA respondents are vital members of American society. These men and women work in almost every capacity, including in such varied roles as doctors and nurses to grocery store workers and child care providers. DACA has provided the opportunity for prosperity that brings people from all over the world to the U.S.