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What is the current status of DACA under US immigration law?

In 2012, President Obama signed an executive order creating a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Under DACA, people who were brought to the U.S. as children and who are undocumented can seek deferred action protecting them from deportation. Those who qualify for DACA can also seek work authorization. DACA does not, however, confer legal status.

Now many of those who sought and obtained temporary relief under DACA, including many people in Florida, are living in fear of deportation and separation from family members. Many immigrants who applied for the DACA program are fearful that the information they submitted will now be used to track them down and deport them.

The source of their fear is, of course, President-elect Trump, who promised to repeal DACA during his campaign. Because the program was created by executive order, Trump can repeal it without support from Congress.

As of right now, undocumented immigrants can seek DACA relief if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday. Applicants must have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present. They must be currently enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or GED or be an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces or the U.S. Coast Guard. Applicants will be ineligible if they have a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, convictions of three or more other misdemeanors or if they are deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

DACA applicants must submit forms I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and an I-765WS Worksheet to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They must also collect and submit supporting documentation. There is a fee of $465 which cannot be waived, although limited fee exemptions are available.

It is unclear what President-elect Trump will do when in office. Some immigration advocates believe that even if he ends the program, he may not repeal DACA protections already granted, but instead allow the work permits to expire on their own. Those who are concerned about their status may wish to consult an experienced immigration attorney for advice.

Source: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)," accessed Nov. 13, 2016

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