by Manuel Reynoso
With nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants receiving DACA since its inception in 2012, many of which live right here in Ventura and Ventura County, there still exists a lot of misinformation and confusion as to what DACA is. With the current political climate, it’s important to understand it’s history, what it has accomplished, and where DACA stands as of now.
Announced by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was created due to congress’ inability to pass the DREAM Act, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for those brought to the U.S. illegally as a child. To qualify for DACA one had to be:
- At least 15 years old when applying but under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
- Under the age 16 when entering the United States.
- Living in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007.
- Present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying.
- Not convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors.
- In school or have graduated or completed high school, or have been honorably discharged from the military.
Once granted DACA, recipients would not find themselves faced with the threat of deportation, so long as they did not receive a felony or significant misdemeanor.
While DACA did not provide a path for citizenship, many recipients found themselves much more capable at participating in society. As immigration attorney Vanessa Frank stressed, “It just allowed people to be comfortable in their own skin. They could ask the questions needed to be real participants in the community.” Recipients would now be able to lawfully work, pay their taxes, and actively pursue higher education. Simply put, it allowed recipients to engage and excel in this country.
So where are we now? With President Trump rescinding of DACA, recipients would be unable to renew their DACA status past March 5, 2018. However, On behalf of DACA recipients, the University of Southern California issued a lawsuit challenging Presidents Trump’s action to terminate DACA, and on January 9th a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the repeal of DACA until a decision is made in court. Currently, while it’s certain to reach the Supreme Court, there is little evidence to suggest one outcome over another. Till a decision is made, current recipients of DACA can continue to renew their deferred status for the time being.
DACA has been nothing but a boon for recipients living here in Ventura. DACA recipients have been able to participate in society and give back to the communities they have grown up in. It has safe-guarded many people from being deported to a country they simply don’t know. I would like a special thanks to Immigration Attorney Vanessa Frank for educating me on DACA and its effects.