In 2012, Congress reached a deadlock on a program that would have protected young immigrants from deportation if they had been brought to the U.S. as minors.
The idea was that these immigrants had themselves done nothing illegal. It was not their choice to enter the U.S. illegally, and now most of them had virtually no ties to their countries of origin. Deporting them would be unusually cruel, forcing people who had long believed themselves to be Americans to move to essentially a foreign country.
When Congress was unable to act, President Obama created the program, now known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" or DACA, by executive order. The program currently applies to people who arrived in the U.S. at age 15 or younger before June 2007, and who were under 31 on June 15, 2012.
To qualify, applicants must also:
- Be in school, be a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military
- Have no more than a minor misdemeanor on their criminal record
- Not be considered a threat to national security
- Have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
- Have been physically in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and on the date of their application
- Have had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
Successful applicants receive protection from deportation for two years, which can be renewed. They also receive legal authorization to work in the U.S. As of August 2018, between 690,000 and 800,000 people were active DACA recipients.
In September 2017, President Trump announced he would begin dismantling the program in six months, during which time he hoped Congress would pass laws to help the recipients.
However, four federal courts ruled that the Trump administration could not dismantle DACA. Each judge issued an injunction prohibiting the Trump administration from shuttering the program, which many people have relied on.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals from all four courts. The four rulings will be consolidated into a single appeal.
"DACA was a promise by the government to our clients and to hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers across America," stated one of lawyer representing plaintiffs in the appeal. "That promise is that if they played by the rules and if they came forward and gave the government sensitive personal information, then they would be protected from removal from the only country most of them have ever known as home."
If you have questions about DACA or another immigration topic, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people come live and work in the United States.