Eleven Years of DACA: Time for More

June 15th marked the eleventh anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. It was intended as an “exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” meaning that it provided temporary relief (deferred action) from deportation for “Dreamers” — undocumented migrants who came to the US as children. In addition to protection from deportation, it provides recipients with work authorization. However, DACA is a temporary status and does not lead to permanent status, such as a green card or citizenship. Furthermore, DACA status must be renewed every two years. 

Since its launch, over 835,000 people have benefited from DACA. The program has served recipients in many ways. Many Dreamers have experienced significant upward mobility in their socioeconomic status due to their ability to work with their work authorization. Often, DACA recipients can work in better positions and conditions once they receive Dreamer status. In 2019, a survey found that an estimated 40% were in school and 83% of those were working towards a degree in higher education. Many stated that it was because of DACA that they could pursue these opportunities without fear and restrictions. 

With DACA, many undocumented children have been afforded opportunities they would not have otherwise. However, even President Obama stated that this was a “temporary stopgap,” rather than a permanent solution. But now, it is eleven years later and no progress toward a more permanent solution has been made. President Trump even attempted to terminate the program, leaving many Dreamers in fear of deportation and family separation. Thankfully, in 2021, President Biden reaffirmed the government’s commitment to DACA in a memorandum. 

Nonetheless, everything remains temporary and constantly subject to change. The status, although helpful, still keeps recipients in legal limbo. Intended as a temporary fix, it has now become an endless repetition of renewals with no clear solution in sight. 

The implementation of DACA is actually what inspired attorney Tracie Morgan to found Hope Immigration (then Klinke Immigration) back in 2012. Eleven years later, we still represent DACA clients, many of which return every other year to renew their status. We constantly see the effects of DACA’s uncertainty. Not only do Dreamers have to renew their status every two years, but they are subject to the hefty renewal application fees. Many Dreamers are unable to keep up with the constant renewal processes, all while still living in fear of being separated from their families if DACA is revoked or changed. 

Dreamers deserve more. They are a vital part of the American community and the only country they’ve called home. It is time to develop a more permanent solution for our Dreamers.


To read more about DACA and Dreamers’ experiences, check out this article. More information can also be found here.

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