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Everything You Need to Know About DACA — and Its Possible Rescission

Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHCI) that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may be at risk. Since his announcement, there’s been a flood of calls to #DefendDACA, as well as confusion over what this would mean for young people in this program. Here’s a primer on the four things you need to know about DACA and its possible rescission.

What is DACA? After years of immigrant youth-led organizing and campaigning, President Obama signed an executive order in 2012 providing temporary deportation relief to eligible undocumented youth who migrated as children. DACA – not to be confused with the DREAM Act – is not a piece of legislation and does not provide recipients with a pathway to citizenship or permanent protections. However, it does grant them work authorization and, in most states, a driver’s license. Applicants must meet a long list of requirements and renew their DACA every two years. The program has allowed nearly 800,000 “Dreamers” to attend college, legally work in the U.S., and pursue their dreams without fear. But, since it is an executive order, it could disappear at any time.

Why is it at risk? Although Trump campaigned on the promise that he would rescind “unconstitutional” Obama-era executive actions (DACA included), he has yet to do so. In light of Trump’s indecision, Vox reports that in June, a group of Republican state officials called for an end to DACA and threatened to sue the Administration if Trump fails to act by September 5. John Kelly told CHCI members that it is highly unlikely DACA would survive a court challenge—and that it’s ultimately up to anti-immigrant Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make the final call if the program is challenged in court. Trump fired back, saying that he—and not his subordinates—would make the final decision on DACA, adding that it’s a decision that’s “very, very hard to make.” (Is it, though? Ending DACA would cost states billions of dollars and even seventy five percent of Trump voters want legal status for Dreamers. Seems like a no brainer).

What happens now? Last week, Senators Durbin and Graham introduced a bi-partisan bill to provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship. Although the bill has broad support among members of both parties, The Hill reports that the Administration is “unlikely to support the new bill.” If DACA is taken away, hundreds of thousands of youth will lose their licenses and potentially their jobs, private scholarships, and educational opportunities. They will also be at a (higher) risk for detention and deportation. Dreamers should be prepared: Brush up on Know Your Rights materials, make sure you have an ITIN via the IRS so you can work at least as a consultant/contractor, and prepare a Third Privacy Waiver Form (this form allows a third party of your choice to request any information about your immigration or deportation case).

How can allies help? Right now, Dreamers need your emotional and financial support. Here are four ways you can help: 1) Reach out to your undocumented friends offering your support; 2) write an op-ed or letter in your local newspaper in support of DACA (building public support matters!); 3) sign these two petitions to members of Congress and governors; 4) donate to United We Dream and help fund scholarships for Dreamers. A more permanent solution will require comprehensive immigration reform. As we move forward, we not only need to #DefendDACA but also fight to ensure a path to citizenship for all migrants living in the shadows.

Header image via PBS

Durham, NC

Barbara is a PhD student at The University of North Carolina. She writes about immigration, migrant activism and organizing, & intersectional feminism.

Barbara is a PhD student at The University of North Carolina. She writes about immigration, migrant activism and organizing, & intersectional feminism.

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