What is DACA? Learn about the policy and its impact

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been a contentious policy in the United States for several years. DACA was first introduced by the Obama administration in 2012 as an executive order to provide temporary relief from deportation for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Since then, DACA has faced legal challenges, and its future has been uncertain under the current administration. The Trump administration attempted to rescind the policy in 2017, but the Supreme Court ruled against it in June 2020. Despite this ruling, the future of DACA remains uncertain, leaving many Dreamers–the name given to DACA recipients–in limbo. This article will explore the history of DACA, who qualifies for it, its benefits and limitations, and the current status of the policy, providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding of what DACA is and how it works.



DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a policy that was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. It allows young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to temporarily avoid deportation and obtain work permits. The policy was created to address the situation faced by these individuals, often referred to as Dreamers, who had grown up in the United States but lacked legal status.

The DACA policy has been at the center of debates about immigration and has polarized political opinions. While some view it as an important step towards providing relief and stability to those who have lived most of their lives in the United States, others see it as an overreach of executive power and an incentive for more illegal immigration.

Despite the controversy surrounding it, DACA has had a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have taken advantage of its provisions. To understand the policy and its implications, it’s important to look at its history, requirements, benefits, and limitations.

History of DACA

The Obama Administration and the Dreamers

The Obama Administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 as a way to address the issue of young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. These individuals, known as Dreamers, had grown up in the US and considered it their home, but lacked legal status due to their parents’ actions.

DACA allowed Dreamers to obtain work permits and reprieve from deportation for two years, subject to renewal. To be eligible, applicants had to meet several criteria, including being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, arriving in the US before turning 16, and having lived in the US continuously since June 15, 2007.

The decision to create DACA was not taken lightly by the Obama administration, which faced backlash from both sides of the political spectrum. However, advocates argued that the policy was necessary to protect young people who had no say in their arrival in the US and were contributing members of their communities.

Over the course of its existence, DACA helped nearly 800,000 young immigrants gain access to higher education, better jobs, and increased economic stability. Many Dreamers became vocal advocates for their cause, sharing their stories to raise awareness of the challenges they faced.

Despite this progress, DACA remained a temporary solution that did not provide a pathway to citizenship. The Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA in 2017 sparked widespread protests and legal challenges, leaving many Dreamers uncertain about their futures.

Overall, the Obama Administration’s creation of DACA was a significant step towards recognizing the contributions and humanity of young immigrants brought to the US as children. It provided a measure of relief and hope for those affected, even as the fight for immigration reform continues.

The Rescission of DACA by the Trump Administration

The Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA in 2017 left hundreds of thousands of Dreamers uncertain about their future. The move was spearheaded by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that the program was unconstitutional and undermined the rule of law.

Legal challenges were quickly mounted against the rescission, with several federal courts ruling that the administration had not provided adequate justification for ending the program. In response, the administration attempted to phase out DACA rather than end it outright, but this too was met with legal challenges.

Despite the legal uncertainty, the Trump Administration continued to push for the complete elimination of DACA, arguing that it was an amnesty program that incentivized illegal immigration. This stance was met with fierce opposition from Democrats and immigration advocates, who argued that DACA was a humane policy that protected young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own.

Ultimately, the fate of DACA remains uncertain, with the Supreme Court set to decide its constitutionality in the coming months. Regardless of the outcome, the controversy surrounding the program underscores the contentious politics of immigration in the United States and the ongoing struggle to find a solution that is both compassionate and effective.

Who qualifies for DACA?

One of the most important questions that arise when discussing DACA is who qualifies for this program. While it is not available to all immigrants, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for DACA.

The first requirement is age. Applicants must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. Additionally, they must have come to the United States before turning 16 years old and have continuously resided in the country for at least five years prior to the date of their application.

Another key factor is education. Applicants must either be currently enrolled in school (including high school, college, or vocational school), have graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

A criminal record can disqualify an individual from receiving DACA benefits, so it is essential to have a clean record. Anyone with a felony conviction, significant misdemeanor, or three or more non-significant misdemeanors on their record may not be eligible.

It is also important to note that DACA is only available to individuals who are currently living in the United States. Anyone who has left the country since August 15, 2012, without advanced parole is not eligible to apply.

In summary, the requirements for DACA eligibility include being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; arriving in the United States before turning 16 years old; continuously residing in the country for at least five years prior to the date of application; having a clean criminal record; and either currently being enrolled in school, having graduated or obtained a GED, or being an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Benefits of DACA

One of the most significant benefits of DACA is the ability to obtain work authorization. Prior to DACA, undocumented individuals were not able to legally work in the United States, which made it difficult for them to support themselves and their families. With work authorization through DACA, recipients are able to secure jobs and contribute to the economy.

Another benefit of DACA is the ability to obtain a driver’s license. This may seem like a small thing, but it can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Having a driver’s license allows DACA recipients to easily get to work or school, run errands, and take care of their daily responsibilities.

DACA also provides recipients with a Social Security Number (SSN). This is important because it enables them to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, and establish credit. It is also necessary for many jobs that require a background check.

Travel is another benefit of DACA. While recipients cannot leave the country without first obtaining advance parole, this allows them to travel outside of the United States for educational, employment, and humanitarian reasons. This can be particularly meaningful for Dreamers who have not seen family members or loved ones in many years.

Overall, the benefits of DACA are numerous and far-reaching. While the program has its limitations, it has provided countless young immigrants with the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families in the United States.

Limitations of DACA

Limitations of DACA

While DACA offers many benefits to eligible individuals, it also has several limitations that applicants should be aware of. Here are some of the main limitations of DACA:


DACA is a temporary program that requires renewal every two years. This means that even if an individual is approved for DACA, their status is not permanent and could be revoked at any time. Moreover, the program does not offer a clear path to permanent residency or citizenship.

No Path to Citizenship

Although DACA provides protection from deportation, it does not provide a pathway to citizenship. This means that while individuals with DACA status may be able to work legally in the United States, they cannot vote or apply for certain government benefits.


Another limitation of DACA is the need for regular renewals. To maintain DACA status, individuals must apply for renewal every two years, which can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, changes in personal circumstances or new criminal convictions could impact eligibility for renewal.

It’s important to note that DACA is not a long-term solution for undocumented individuals who wish to stay in the United States permanently. While it provides some relief from the fear of deportation and allows recipients to work legally, it does not provide a clear path to citizenship or permanent residency.

Despite its limitations, DACA has had a significant positive impact on the lives of many young immigrants in the United States. It remains to be seen how the program will evolve in the coming years and whether Congress will ultimately pass legislation that guarantees a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

Current status of DACA

Current status of DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has been a topic of significant debate in the United States since its inception. In 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to rescind DACA, but legal challenges have kept the program alive and allowed those who already had it to renew their status.

The latest development in DACA’s legal saga came in June 2020 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious.” This decision effectively restored the program to its original form, allowing eligible individuals to continue applying for renewals.

However, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, DACA’s future remains uncertain. The Trump administration could still try to terminate the program again, or Congress could pass legislation that either codifies DACA into law or provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Renewals for DACA recipients are currently being processed, but new applications are not being accepted. This means that while current DACA recipients can continue to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, those who meet the eligibility criteria but have not yet applied for DACA cannot benefit from the program.

The uncertainty surrounding DACA’s future has left many Dreamers feeling anxious and unsure about their place in American society. While some remain hopeful that Congress will pass a permanent solution for DACA recipients, others worry that political gridlock will prevent any meaningful change from happening.

In conclusion, while the Supreme Court’s ruling was a victory for DACA recipients, the program’s future is still very much up in the air. Dreamers and immigration advocates are continuing to push for a permanent solution that would allow them to fully participate in American society without fear of deportation.
The DACA program has been a source of controversy and uncertainty since its inception in 2012. Despite providing temporary relief for Dreamers, the policy remains vulnerable to legal challenges and political changes. The history of DACA reveals the ongoing struggle to address immigration policy in America. Its benefits and limitations highlight the continued need for comprehensive reform that provides a path to citizenship. With the current status of DACA up in the air, it is important to remember that these are people’s lives at stake. They are our friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans. As we navigate through these challenging times, we must continue to advocate for humane and just policies that reflect our values as a nation.

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