When the Trump Administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many Philadelphians expressed dismay.
Across the United States, approximately 790,000 Americans have benefited from the DACA program.
The program, started under the Obama Administration, allows for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, often as infants, to remain in the country under certain conditions. DACA provides rolling deferrals from deportation and work permits.
In other words, it ensures that Americans who have lived in the U.S. their entire lives can work, attend school, and pay taxes in a way that fully complies with federal law. Ending DACA not only pushes hard-working Americans into the shadows; it also stands in opposition to centuries of America’s promise of being a land of immigrants and a place of opportunity.
There are concrete actions, including calling Congress, you can take right now to stand up for Philadelphians who are affected by DACA.
January 9, 2018, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the administration’s effort to end the DACA program. The order by U.S. District Judge William Alsup will protect immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while the legal challenge continues.
Alsup ruled that while the lawsuit is pending, anyone who had DACA status when the program was rescinded in September can renew it. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal. United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Get advice from a trusted legal adviser before submitting any DACA application.
Actions you can take right now to support DACA
Call your representatives in Congress and urge them to support a clean DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).
Every day, 122 individuals are losing their status and ability to work legally in this country. A legislative solution could provide the nearly 5,900 DACA recipients living in Pennsylvania with a pathway to citizenship.
The DREAM Act would provide a permanent solution to replace DACA, allowing undocumented immigrants, who came to the U.S. as children, to live, study, and work in the U.S., while also creating a pathway to citizenship for them.
You can also find additional ways to take action to help DACA recipients here.
Share information about local resources.
If you are a DACA recipient or a family member of a DACA recipient in Philadelphia, local organizations will provide safe places for families and DACA recipients to gather and gain more information.
In Philadelphia, those places are:
- SEAMAAC, 1711 S Broad Street, 215-467-0690
- Aquinas Center, 1700 Fernon Street, 267-928-4048
- New Sanctuary Movement, 2601 Potter Street, 215-279-7060
- Juntos (Spanish-speaking), 600 Washington Avenue, Unit 18a-2, 215-218-9079
7 Quick Facts: What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
- On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the Trump administration decision, argued that DACA was an unlawful overreach by President Barack Obama and said he could not defend it.
- The program was ended with a six-month delay intended to allow Congress to act before the March 5, 2018.
- September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting all new applications. Those whose DACA permits expired between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, could have applied for a two-year renewal by October 5, 2017.
- DACA was an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. Although DACA did not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency, it did provide temporary protection from deportation, allowed for work authorization, and the ability to apply for a social security number.
- Over the last five years, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has changed the lives of nearly 800,000 young people. By providing the opportunity for people to come forward, pass rigorous background checks, and obtain permission to live and work in the United States lawfully, DACA has helped people pursue higher education, earn better wages to support their families, and buy homes.
- To qualify for DACA, you needed to meet certain requirements. The requirements included:
- You were under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012;
- You first came to the United States before your 16th birthday;
- You have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007 until the present;
- You are currently studying, or you graduated from high school or earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or military (technical and trade school completion also qualifies); and
- You have NOT been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors (including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind.
- If Congress does not act to renew DACA, nearly 800,000 young people would face the prospect of losing their ability to work and be at risk for deportation from the only country they call home. This would be a huge loss of opportunity, skills, and talent for our country.