What Is DACA?

In June 2012, President Obama announced a new program to protect young immigrants from deportation and also provide then with work permits.  The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to receive a renewable two-year work permit and offers exemption from deportation.  Since the DACA program was instituted, it has temporarily protected almost 750,000 people from deportation.  Deferred action is a discretionary, limited immigration benefit granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The grant of deferred action does not grant legal status to an applicant.  In addition, it does not cure an applicant’s previous periods of unlawful presence.  However, an applicant who is granted deferred action will not be deemed to be accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. during the time period when deferred action is in effect.  At this time, there is no direct path to citizenship from deferred action.

DACA recipients live in all fifty states.  A recent survey by United We Dream, an immigrant activist group, revealed about two-thirds of DACA recipients help their families financially with needed support.  In addition, many DACA recipients are securing higher paying jobs and, as a result, are becoming more financially independent.

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Who is eligible?

  • Young people (born on or after June 16, 1981) who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 who:
    • Do not have lawful immigration status;
    • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
    • Were present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
    • Are at least fifteen years old;
    • Are currently in school or a graduate of high school or GED recipient or honorably discharged military veteran;
    • Have a clean criminal record and can pass a background check.

How much does DACA cost?

The current government filing fees for the application are $465.  This includes an application for an Employment Authorization Document and a background check.

Can DACA recipients travel?

DACA recipients can only travel outside the U.S. if they apply for and receive advanced parole before they travel.  Generally advanced parole is only granted for humanitarian, educational, or employment reasons.  If an applicant leaves the U.S. without advanced parole being granted or before a decision has been made on his/her deferred action application, he/she will not be permitted back into the United States.  In addition, even with advanced parole, the border agent has discretion whether to allow the individual back into the U.S.

Is applying for DACA dangerous?

Unfortunately, yes.  There is some risk in applying for DACA.  An individual should only apply after consulting with an immigration attorney.  If an individual is here unlawfully and he/she does not meet the criteria for deferred action, he/she may be placed in removal proceedings.  Additionally, even if he/she is granted deferred action, this status is completely discretionary and can be revoked in the future.

What is the Future of DACA?

It has been over four years since President Obama instituted the DACA program.  Because President Obama authorized the DACA program through executive action, the future of the program remains uncertain, subject to the outcome of the next presidential election and the next Congress.  The lives of more than 750,000 undocumented young immigrants — often referred to as Dreamers despite the fact that the federal DREAM act was never passed by Congress—are in a fragile state.


For more information on DACA, please contact our office.