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Coming Out of the Shadows Through DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a temporary lifeline for thousands of young immigrants. The Migration Policy Institute has reported that California ranks 11th in the nation for applications to the DACA program. This low ranking is unfortunate when you consider that the state actually has the largest number of people who are eligible for the program. Yet, only about 61 percent of the state's eligible population have applied for the program. This is slightly less than the 63 percent national rate.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA was born in the summer of 2012. Under this edict, the Secretary of Homeland Security offered immigrant children the opportunity to defer deportation by two years, with an opportunity for renewal. DACA does not give these individuals lawful status in the United States, but it does take some of the pressure off. The following conditions must be met in order to qualify:

  • You must be at least 15 years of age.
  • You must have been no older than 31 years of age by June 2012.
  • You must have arrived in the United States prior to July, 2012, before you were age 16, and have lived here for at least five years continuous years.
  • You must meet educational or armed services conditions:
    • Have a GED, or
    • Are a High School graduate, or
    • Are attending an adult education program or enrolled in school, or
    • Are an honorably discharged Armed Forces or Coast Guard veteran.
  • You must qualify under a criminal background check:
    • No felony convictions, and
    • No significant misdemeanor convictions, and
    • No more than two other misdemeanors, and
    • You pose no threat to public safety or national security.

Acceptance into the DACA program has the potential of raising your quality of life. Many participants are able to obtain gainful employment, secure bank accounts and enjoy a better sense of freedom and community.

Low California DACA Applications

If the benefits of acceptance into DACA are so good, why then are the application rates for eligible individuals so low? Speculation points to this year's contentious and uncertain presidential election. It's no secret that Republican candidate Donald Trump built his platform and popularity early on deportation of immigrants. This naturally makes many immigrants fearful.

The uncertainty for the future of this program may be depressing application rates. Though eligible for deferred status under DACA now, some worry what may happen if Trump wins the presidency. Coming out of the shadows may look like a risk that brings their shaky status to the attention of future government immigration officials. Though this apprehension is understandable, advocates encourage eligible immigrants to take advantage of DACA to secure legal deferment protection now.

If you have questions about your DACA eligibility or other immigration options, consult with a savvy California Immigration and Nationality Lawyer. An experienced attorney can answer your questions and explore your legal options for remaining in the United States.

Sources: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sdut-daca-study-2016aug13-story.html

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