Between 2012 and 2021, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has evolved. The legislation has started, paused and begun again over three U.S. presidential administrations, so immigrants in New Jersey may be unsure where they stand.
DACA is a program that protects young immigrants from deportation. They were brought into the country by their parents or guardians who were fleeing their home countries. These “Dreamers,” as they’re called, are hoping for a pathway to citizenship.
What DACA means to Dreamers
Immigrants qualifying for DACA can receive permanent residence or a work or school visa. Many DACA applicants have no connection to their home country because they were infants or young children when they arrived; the United States is the only home they know. Returning them to an unfamiliar land could be traumatic for them. If a DACA applicant arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, lived consistently in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, is in school or has graduated, has no felony convictions and poses no threat to the U.S., they can achieve the pathway to citizenship.
How DACA backlog in the courts affect applicants
Some DACA cases have been backlogged for years. In some states, applicants can be detained or deported while their cases are waiting to be heard. Over 1 million cases are waiting for judgment. New Jersey courts are speeding up the process and allowing immigrants to remain until their application is decided. DACA is a complex process that is continually developing.
Congress has yet to set a permanent DACA solution to help immigrants achieve citizenship. Until they do, the DACA application process will continue to move forward.