Then-U.S. President Barack Obama launched Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in June 2012 to provide a reprieve from deportation to young people who came to the United States as children. Though DACA does not provide official legal status or a pathway to citizenship to these 800,000 plus individuals, it does allow them to be “lawfully present” without the threat of deportation and apply for driver’s licenses and work permits.
That being said, here’s are 15 things you probably didn’t know about DACA.
1. DACA recipients are not eligible to vote. DACA is not a path to citizenship or amnesty. It simply shields them temporarily from being deported because as children, they were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents by no fault of their own. Again, it’s not their fault they came to the U.S. Therefore, we must not blame them for crimes they didn’t commit.
2. DACA recipients do not receive free healthcare, welfare, or food stamps. They are not even eligible for Obamacare or Medicaid.
3. DACA recipients are required to pay income taxes. It’s estimated that ending DACA would decrease state and local revenue by $800 million a year.
4. DACA recipients are not just “too lazy” or “too busy” to take the proper steps to legal citizenship. Once they are approved for the DACA program, they will never be eligible for any other legal status in the U.S. other then DACA (at least for right now), even if they are married to US citizens. As the law stands now, the option to become a U.S. citizen will simply never be made available to them. The program is only meant to be temporary protection from deportation and a chance to live, work and obtain a driver’s license legally in the U.S.
5. The United States is the only home they have ever known because they were brought to the U.S. as children. Many if not most, primarily speak English more than Spanish. If they were to be deported, they will be sent to a country they have never been used to. In many cases, their parents fled a country suffering from severe poverty, war, and oppression. Bringing their children to the U.Ss, even with the serious risks of doing it illegally, may have been their parents’ only hope.
6. DACA recipients speak English and are very often bilingual. For the most part, they are completely assimilated into American culture. Some don’t even realize that they are not in the country legally until they are old enough to need a driver’s license, job, or are surprisingly told by their parents when they want to attend college but must pay out-of-state tuition. It is often devastating and embarrassing for them to suddenly find out they are undocumented.
7. DACA Recipients cannot have a criminal record and will be deported if they don’t adhere to some very strict rules. Therefore, generalizing them by saying they are “mostly violent criminals and gang members” is unequivocally false.
8. To be granted DACA status, they must pass a background check, have a clean criminal record and a high school diploma or GED. They lose their eligibility if they commit a felony or a significant misdemeanor. Even a regular misdemeanor, juvenile adjudication, or expunged conviction can put them at severe risk for eligibility. (And for the record, the incarceration rate of native-born American citizens is 14% higher than DACA recipients as a whole.)
9. DACA recipients are not stealing your jobs. Over 6 million jobs remain unfilled in the United States, a record high, despite 90% of DACA recipients being employed.
10. The DACA program has been overwhelmingly successful for the U.S. economy. It is estimated that the U.S. would lose $460 billion dollars in GDP over the next 10 years without DACA. The majority of recipients buy cars, houses, and other large purchases that contribute to strong economic growth. We need them.
11. DACA recipients live in fear and uncertainty. They must reapply for DACA status every 2 years for the rest of their lives. It costs at least $500 every time they apply. It’s a stressful, uncertain life considering they are penalized for something they had no control over.
12. Over 72% either have advanced degrees or are enrolled in higher education. Contrary to popular belief, they are not instantly rewarded free college tuition. It is true that many opportunities are made available to them, such as scholarships, in-state tuition, and in some cases financial aid, to encourage them to further their education. A better education means they are better contributors to their communities.
13. DACA recipients are also affectionately called Dreamers. Recipients must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and must have come to the U.S. before reaching 16.
14. More than 1,800 Governors, attorneys general, mayors, state representatives, police chiefs, and judges have signed onto a letter supporting DACA.
15. Sadly, DACA has been put on the chopping block by the Trump administration and its future looks bleak. Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as Fox News, Brietbart, and other Right Wing “media” outlets are successfully leading the way on stoking serious fear about DACA to the American public. Not only are they trying to end DACA, but they’re also trying to end several other LEGAL immigration programs and laws.
By the TiC Team