The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a progam that was enacted vis-a-vis an Executive Order signed by President Obama on June 15, 2012.DACA’s intent is to protect undocumented individuals who were brought into the country as children and overstayed, or entered illegally (Entered Without Inspection, “EWI”). By coming forward and applying, they are guaranteed that they will not be deported (barring any subsequent criminal convictions that make them deportable) and will be legally permitted to work in the United States. The intent of the program merits praise, but its fatal flaw is that it offers no path to citizenship – and the future of DACA is uncertain since it is an Executive Order rather than an Act of Congress.
DACA has provided few assurances, which may be the main contributing cause to the reason it has seen a lower participation rate than anticipated among those it was designed to benefit.
- DACA does not grant legal status to any immigrants and it is not a permanent measure.
A newly released study shows that only about half of those immigrants who are eligible have applied.Statistics compiled by The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group, found that only567,500 (52%) of the 1.1 million immigrants eligible for deferred action have applied thus far.
Immigrants who took advantage of DACA and were approved will need to have their statuses renewed by the end of 2014. How these renewals will be handled by the Obama administration is currently unknown. So even those who have chosen to come forward are still in limbo.
As I pointed out when the program was first launched, DACA lacks substantial protections for those here unlawfully, which is likely what has caused so many immigrants to shy away from it. Many immigrants who have been living in this country without permanent status are reticent to come forward and provide their names, residences and backgrounds for any official records. There is no guarantee within DACA that the information an applicant provides in his or her application will not be shared by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services); or, that deportation will result from the new information.
Additionally, if someone omits part of his or her criminal history and this omission is discovered, it has the potential to trigger an appearance before an immigration judge and eventually deportation could occur.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner has recently stated that any Immigration reform that clears the House will be done in piecemeal fashion. Congressional inaction has served to exacerbate the uncertainty that surrounds DACA and US Immigration as a whole. The Executive Order behind DACA is set to expire this year. Many members of the House Republican caucus are adamantly opposed to providing a path to citizenship.
What is your Representative’s stance on comprehensive Immigration Reform?