Five Years of DACA: DREAMing of a More Secure Future

June 15, 2017

By Mary Giovagnoli

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 is National DACA Day of Action. Learn more about events near you at defenddaca.com.

Five years ago today, former President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, one of the most significant administrative immigration decisions of the past twenty years. With DACA, many undocumented young people who entered the United States before the age of 16 were given the opportunity to live in the United States, attend school, and work without fear of removal. Although it is a temporary reprieve, as DACA provides no permanent status or benefits, the program has literally changed lives, allowing young people to attend college, pursue graduate degrees, and work in their chosen professions. Despite campaign threats from President Trump that he would end DACA on the first day of his administration, the program has thus far continued to grant new applications and renewals according to data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last week.

But DACA recipients remain uneasy, not only because the future of the program remains in doubt but also because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have arrested and detained persons with legitimate DACA status on more than one occasion. Most recently, Jessica Colotl, a 29-year-old DACA recipient and graduate of Kennesaw State University in Georgia, had to Take action today! Urge your Senators to Save DACA on Connecting Our World.take her case to federal court after USCIS refused to renew her DACA status, apparently based on a misdemeanor conviction in 2010 that had not disqualified her from receiving DACA four years ago or renewing it two years later. The District Court ordered USCIS to reinstate her DACA grant and her work authorization and ordered the agency to reconsider her renewal application. But her status remains precarious as DHS is aggressively expanding its deportation efforts, and DACA recipients do not know how long their protected status will hold.

Consequently, as we celebrate DACA’s birthday, NAFSA calls for better and more secure protections for these young people who are an important part of America’s future. We support the BRIDGE Act (S. 128, H.R. 496), a bill that would protect young people brought to the United States as children without documentation and allow them to study and work in the United States for three years (you can take action by urging your Senators to support this bill). We also look forward to the possibility of a new version of the DREAM Act, which would offer permanent legal status for many undocumented young people who entered the US as children. Ultimately, we need broad-based immigration reform to solve the institutional problems plaguing our immigration system, but in the short term, we cannot abandon the DACA recipients and other DREAMers who have shown in the last five years how much potential and talent they can contribute to our colleges, our communities, and our nation.


Mary Giovagnoli is the senior director for public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.


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