What is DACA and What is Going on?

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Sara Robinson Camarena, Asst. Editor

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In recent news, DACA has been in the spotlight. Various articles are detailing what’s going on and what exactly it is. As this is especially relevant to many people of high school age, The Pegasus has decided to do a piece on it as well.

What is DACA?

DACA, or Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, was implements in of 2012 by President Barack Obama after Congress failed to pass the similar DREAM Act previously. Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and can provide evidence of this were the target of this policy. They are protected for two years from deportation and are granted a work permit for the US as well.

To qualify for this, one must not have committed any felonies, serious or three plus misdemeanors. They also must be or have completed school or have been honorably discharged from the military. There are many misconceptions about those who are protected by this policy though.

Those protected by DACA cannot have any unauthorized travel. This means that if they wish to leave the US for a temporary period, they must first get permission. They are only able to do so if they are doing so under humanitarian purposes (visiting dying family), for educational purposes, or for employment purposes. Male individuals are required to sign up for the selective service when they come of age and while all individuals are given a social security number, none can collect from it when the time comes. They also must pay taxes like any citizen or legal immigrant and are not eligible for many government assistance programs. These include medicaid, financial aid, food stamps, welfare, housing programs, and while they can fill out the FAFSA form, they cannot receive any scholarship money from it.

What’s Going On?

On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was to be repealed. The policy implementation was suspended for six months. During this time period, those whose protection was expiring on or before March 5, 2018 could apply for a two-year renewal if the application was turned in by October 5, 2017. On January 9th of this year, the US District Court for the Northern District of California was successful in temporarily blocking the repeal and on the 13th, renewal applications were to continue being approved.

What will happen?

It is unsure of what will happen over the course of the next few months concerning DAC and those it protects. A White House Memo told those under the policy to prepare to leave the United States however the blocking from the California Court ordered the government to renew the policy until further orders. A few acts have been proposed in the meantime, including the DREAM Act again, a pathway to legalization program called Recognizing America’s Children Act, another similar program that allows those who arrived before they were 18 called the American Hope Act, and the BRIDGE Act, which simply extends DACA for three more years to allow for a serious discussion on comprehensive immigration reform. President Trump has stated that he and his party have proposals for DACA replacements, however, no actual word from news sources have reported this. As of now, it will be further discussed in Congress but it has been determined that only previous applicants are able to request protection once again.

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