In 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a plan to provide immigrants who meet certain criteria deferred action for at least two years. In other words, immigrants that prove eligible are protected from prosecutorial removal from the United States. This plan, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), does not provide lawful status, but allows childhood arrivals to work, obtain a Social Security number, and secure a driver’s license.
DACA is generally designed to assist people who came to the United States as children and have remained here since. They likely arrived in the U.S. with lawful immigration status, but have since lost it through no fault of their own. For a large number of people covered under DACA, the United States is the only home they have ever known. Those accepted under DACA should apply for a renewal a few months before the two-year expiration period.
People applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals must meet the following criteria:
- They must be below the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
- They must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
- They must show proof of continuous residence in the United States for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012, and be present in the U.S on. June 15, 2012.
- They must be currently pursuing a high school diploma, GED, be a high school graduate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
- They must never have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor, repeated misdemeanors, or a felony. They must pose no threat to national security.
Legislation on Extending DACA is Contested
In 2014, President Obama proposed an expansion to DACA to broaden the parameters for eligibility. With the revised criteria, people of any age could apply for DACA status and the approval period would last for three years instead of two. In response to the proposal, 26 states filed a lawsuit against the new DACA requirements and a Texas judge issued an injunction against it. The Obama administration then appealed the injunction. A decision has yet to be made in the case.
As of today, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is accepting applications for DACA based upon the original guidelines. Since its inception, DACA has proven to be a positive program for all involved. Childhood arrivals to the U.S. can obtain legitimate employment with DACA. As a nation, we benefit from their tax contribution and talent pool.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate for Immigrants Rights in Pennsylvania
At Surin & Griffin, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting the rights of clients facing all kinds of immigration issues including family and business visas, asylum, and deportation. With the guidance of our compassionate and knowledgeable Philadelphia immigration lawyers, the process can be less intimidating. Call our Center City Philadelphia offices today at 215-925-4435 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.
We serve clients in and around Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Darby, Wynnewood, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, Narberth, Folcroft, Cheltenham, Clifton Heights, Lansdowne, Glenolden, Drexel Hill, Elkins Park, Havertown, Norwood, Ardmore, Holmes, Essington, Wyncote, Prospect Park, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.