News: Federal Policy & Advocacy

DACA: Where Things Stand, How To Get Involved

Wednesday, December 4, 2019  
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By guest blogger Rachel Lostumbo, Assistant Director for Success, CollegeTracks

In late November, the fate of over 700,000 young people known as “Dreamers” was debated before the U.S. Supreme Court.  These Dreamers were brought to the U.S. as children and have no permanent immigration status, but for many of them the U.S. is the only home they know.

In 2012, President Obama issued an executive order putting in a place a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. This program protects young people from deportation and allows them to work legally in the U.S., though it does not provide a path to citizenship. In 2017, President Trump attempted to revoke DACA, claiming it was an unlawful program and throwing into chaos the fate of these young people. The issue has worked its way through the court system and landed on the current docket of the Supreme Court.

To understand whom this decision impacts, consider that over 1.9 million people are DACA eligible. This means they were brought to the U.S. by 2007 before they turned 16, have a high school diploma or GED, and have not been convicted of a serious crime. According to the American Council on Higher Education – Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition, 45% of DACA recipients are currently enrolled in school or college. Of DACA recipients 91% are currently employed, and in 2017 they contributed over $4 billion in taxes!

The Supreme Court will rule on this case sometime in spring 2020, and there are three possible outcomes:

  1. The court could decide that it does not have authority to review the revocation of DACA, in which case the Trump administration could move forward and terminate the program.
  2. The court could choose to review the revocation of DACA and find the termination lawful, which would also lead to the end of DACA.
  3. The court could decide that it can review the revocation and then find it unlawful, leaving DACA in place.

If the effort to terminate DACA is successful, the Trump administration has said it will not deport these young people, although there is no guarantee. Either way, discontinuing the DACA program would mean the recipients would no longer be allowed to work legally in this country; they would no longer be able to support themselves, and in many instances, the families that rely on them.

To get involved and to find resources for immigrant students and families, check out these organizations:

(Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash)