In New Jersey, ongoing legal battles plague the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Its future remains uncertain, and legal developments, whether for or against the program, have the power to affect thousands of lives. The following points explore the program, its current status and its potential future.
Background of DACA
The Obama administration initiated DACA in 2012 to prevent young undocumented immigrants from being deported. Individuals had to meet specific criteria, such as student status and a record with no felonies, to receive program approval.
The program allowed these individuals to apply for “deferred action,” which allowed them to defer deportation, receive work authorization in the U.S. and stay legally for two years before reapplying. The government established the program through a memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Some states, including Texas, challenged DACA, stating that a memorandum was not a proper or legitimate way to create the policy. Although DACA has had other legal challenges, so far, recipients have kept their protections.
DACA’s role in immigration
DACA’s role in immigration has been controversial. While some parties would like to see DACA removed, others argue that even with the program’s removal, it will do nothing to address the millions of undocumented individuals in the U.S. and other broader immigration issues. Continuing to work toward solutions for DACA recipients and the larger undocumented population is essential to addressing the country’s immigration issues effectively.
DACA’s current status
In 2021, a federal judge declared DACA illegal. However, they did not end the program, which has led to ongoing legal battles. New applications have remained on hold since 2021, but existing program participants can reapply for legal protections—the 2021 decision allowed for approval of renewals.
President Biden’s administration will likely appeal the latest ruling. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to affirm the judge’s ruling, which could propel the case to the Supreme Court. The evolving makeup of the Supreme Court may impact its final decision, altering the lives of many DACA recipients.
DACA recipients have received public sympathy and support for a potential solution called the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act, which has since become the American Dream and Promise Act of 2023, is legislation created to provide these individuals with a path to citizenship. The House passed the legislation in 2021, but it has yet to pass the Senate.
Some parties believe that removing DACA will reduce the number of people entering the country illegally. Others feel that removing this program will do nothing to resolve the immigration problems faced by the U.S., which must continue seeking solutions to what should happen to those who are in the country illegally.