I have my qualms about President Obama, but I remember the morning he gave this speech and feeling only admiration towards him for his words of compassion and hope:
Watch if you’re interested in what the President had to say!
On June 15, 2012, a memorandum was passed that defers removal action against individuals who meet the following requirements:
- Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before 16th birthday
- Have continuous presence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of applying for DACA
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
- Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
Since August 15, 2012, when the USCIS released the DACA application forms, thousands have applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, but not nearly as many as originally anticipated. Applications for DACA are slowing and an article from ColorLines (← click to read!), a daily news site focused on racial justice powered through Race Forward, expresses concern that the program is already showing its weaknesses only a year later.
Studies from the Migration Policy Institute show that, “nearly half of the undocumented immigrants believed to be eligible for DACA do not meet the educational requirements, and that there are 392,000 young people who are about to turn 16 and thus come of age for DACA who are not currently being counted.” The article, titled “Three Faces of DACA”, also includes the very different stories and testimonies of 3 undocumented youth and their experiences with the Deferred Action process.
However, the ways DACA has helped a number of undocumented youth in the United States should not be ignored. In Oregon, DACA recipients are now eligible for drivers licenses as well as in-state tuition and many other states are fighting for financial aid eligibility for undocumented youth. In addition, DACA has opened up a national discussion about the right to education and to immigration reform.
I see DACA as a great step towards a solution, but a real solution must be achieved before more young people fall through the cracks. While fixing or expanding DACA may help individuals now, we need immigration reform or at least the passing of the DREAM Act (which has been shut down a number of times in the both the Senate and the House since 2001). With Comprehensive Immigration Reform struggling in the House, many youth who have received DACA will be inching towards the expiration date on the 2-year Deferred Action program without any naturalization options in place. Currently, apart from marrying a U.S. citizen, there are no pathways to citizenship for young people brought to the U.S. illegally.
I think more needs to be done to help these young people, but many would disagree. Do you feel more should be done to help undocumented youth, or do you feel we’re already doing too much? What are your thoughts on this program and on DACA recipients’ eligibility for drivers licenses/in-state tuition/financial aid? What is your response to the 3 stories from real undocumented youth in “Three Faces of DACA”?