Question: What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?
Answer: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced on June 15, 2012. The program allows qualifying immigrants who first came to the United States as children to stay in the country for two years without the risk of being placed in removal proceedings regardless of their past or current immigration status.
The two-year “deferred action” period allows applicants to gain work authorization and live in the United States without fear of being deported. DACA does not, however, provide applicants with lawful status and is not a path to citizenship.
To qualify for consideration under the program, applicants mush show they:
1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
6. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran; and
7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security of public safety.
Please contact an immigration attorney if you feel you may be eligible for this program. The application process can be complex, and you must provide adequate documentation. A licensed attorney can help you with this process and answer your legal questions.
Emil Dixon is the founder of the Davis Legal Center, a private law office located in Davis, California.