On September 5, 2017, the Administration rescinded the DACA program, which offered legal protections and work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S since they were children. The government stopped accepting renewal applications on October 5, 2017. If Congress does not act to provide a path to legal status for them, by March 6, 2018, an estimated 1400 DACA holders per day will lose their work permits and revert to being undocumented. This includes several hundred DACA recipients in Maine. This is not only cruel, but will harm our economy, as explained below.
What is DACA?
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was a program created by President Obama on June 15, 2012. It allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007 as children or youth under age 16, who have grown up and were attending or had completed high school or obtained their GED here, to apply for temporary status (following background checks and paying substantial fees) so that they could go on to higher education, jobs, or military service following high school. These were individuals who would gain a path to permanent resident status under the DREAM Act, a bill repeatedly introduced in Congress since 2001, were it to pass. (DACA recipients are often called DREAMers, as a result.)
The Executive Branch carries out the immigration laws, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that Branch’s “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding whom it will deport. With an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., the Obama Administration exercised prosecutorial discretion in offering protection from removal on a case-by-case basis (via individual applications) to the undocumented youth who would be eligible for permanent legal status under the DREAM Act, were Congress to pass it.
About 800,000 DACA holders must now hope that Congress will pass the Dream Act of 2017 (S.1615, H.R. 3440) or another permanent solution, so that they are not forced out of the mainstream and into the shadows, or worse, deported from the country that is their only real home, and that needs their talents.