Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) were immigration executive orders issued by President Barack Obama during his second term in office, the latter of which no longer exists today. The issuance of both orders sparked a great deal of controversy in the United States, mainly because a portion of Americans across a spectrum of political affiliations saw the orders as ineffective solutions to the country’s imminent illegal immigration crisis, while a large segment of others in the U.S. were ardent supporters of amnesty in its highest forms. Both orders were designed to help a particular class of undocumented immigrants, specifically children who had entered the U.S. illegally with parents or overstayed their visas—these children were collectively referred to as the Dreamers. In June of 2017, the Trump administration formally announced that it was rescinding the DAPA order, and a similar announcement, this time in respect to DACA, was issued in September of that same year. Illegal immigration and issues that fall under its umbrella have become hot-button subjects in recent years, and this reality is largely what led to the creation, implementation, and recent dismantling of both DACA and DAPA.
The United States’s illegal immigration problem has been an issue for decades, though 2001 was a significant year for illegal immigration reform because, in this year, Congress tried to pass the Dream Act. The Dream Act, which stood for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, would have provided the aforementioned group of Dreamers with legal status as well as an eventual path to citizenship. At the time, there were about 1.8 million individuals who qualified as Dreamers living in the United States. Proponents of the Dream Act argued that the Dreamers should not be deported, and their reasoning was predicated on the fact that these children possessed no conception of the laws they were breaking at the time they entered the country. Critics of the proposed legislation, on the other hand, saw it as a blanket amnesty, one that would surely encourage more illegal immigration. Today, most Dreamers are now between the ages of 15 and 36.
In 2012, the Obama administration issued the DACA executive order as a means of preventing deportation of the Dreamers. Migrants looking to qualify under DACA are required to apply for protected status, and today’s estimates indicate that more than 800,000 people have done this since DACA’s inception. More than 690,000 people are currently enrolled in the DACA program—most of whom come from Mexico and Central America—though the program, and all those who have become reliant on its protections, are holding on by a thread: a recent federal court injunction has temporarily prevented the Trump administration from doing away with DACA completely, but a majority of legal experts are certain that this injunction will be lifted, and DACA subsequently dismantled, after litigation runs its course. Protections enshrined in DACA last two years, though migrants can renew their protective status once this period expires. Those protected under DACA are allowed to received work permits, and they are given access to employer-backed healthcare as well. What they are not given under DACA, however, is a path to citizenship. Officials also suspect that a large segment of the Dreamers never registered under the DACA program because of concerns regarding what federal authorities might do with their personal information.
There are several requirements an applicant must satisfy in order to receive protections under DACA. Some of the most important are: they must be able to prove they entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday, they remained in the U.S. since 2007, and they did not exceed the age limit, 31 years, before June 15, 2012. DACA status allows individuals to work through temporary work permits, and therefore anyone under the age of 16 cannot apply for DACA status; it should be noted, however, that this stipulation is inconsistent with current U.S. labor law, which allows any individuals over the age of 14 to work throughout the country. There is also an education requirement in DACA: in order to qualify, an individual must be enrolled in high school or already possess a G.E.D. or diploma. Lastly, there is a criminal element: individuals with felony or serious misdemeanor convictions, as well as individuals who have three misdemeanor convictions, are not eligible for DACA status in the United States.
Why Is DACA a Contentious Issue?
During the 2016 election cycle, the DACA and DAPA executive orders, which today are widely considered to be cornerstones of the Obama administration’s second term in office, were routinely targeted by then-candidate Trump, who vowed times without number to do away with both executive orders if he was elected to office. After his election to the presidency, Mr. Trump soon made good on his promise, and on June 15, 2017 the Trump Administration officially rescinded DAPA. Its sister executive order, DACA, was rescinded on September 5 of that same year, but this action was blocked in December by a California judge’s injunction. The results of that legal dispute are still being worked out, which means all Dreamers who were marked for deportation have been allowed to stay in the country until that case is resolved. The Dreamers have gained a lot of bipartisan support over the years, and polls like ones from Pew Research, which show that 74% of Americans favor granting the Dreamers some legal status, evince this reality. President Trump, who on numerous occasions has said he is a supporter of the Dreamers, continues to maintain his position that a deal, in respect to this group, will not be done unless funding for the border wall is given in conjunction with amnesty for the Dreamers. While DAPA may be a thing of the past, DACA’s fate, and the fate of all those who rely on its protections, is still in legal limbo.
- The Dreamer Debacle – Wall Street Journal
- Judge Blocks Trump Plan to End ‘Dreamers’ Program – Wall Street Journal
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- The Dreamers and DACA, Explained – Wall Street Journal
- Democratic Views On A Border Wall
- Democratic Views On Illegal Immigration
- Republican Views on Illegal Immigration
- Donald Trump On Immigration
- Republican Views On Birthright Citizenship
- Democratic View on Immigration
- Republican Views on Immigration
- Republican Views on Planned Parenthood
- Taking A Closer Look At Boehner’s Immigration Plan
- Rand Paul On The Issues