DACA Updates: Presidential Memo on Preserving and Fortifying DACA and The Dream Act of 2021
On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden introduced a memo focusing on the preservation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. In this memo, “the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.”
DACA is an immigration program that was implemented in 2012 by the Secretary of Homeland Security. This program allows certain undocumented individuals who entered the United States as children to be safe from removal for a period of up to two years if they meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The applicant was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- The applicant came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
- The applicant was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- The applicant had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- The applicant was in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion of high school, obtained a general education development (GED), or was an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- The applicant has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. An applicant granted this relief is eligible for work authorization, a social security number and various federal benefits.
On Feb. 4, 2021, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-I11.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced The DACA Dream Act of 2021. This bill will provide individuals who were brought to this country as children and who grew up in the United States the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident status and eventually citizenship if certain requirements are met.
While the existing DACA program has been fully reinstated and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is required to accept new DACA applications, there is still pending litigation in the Southern District of Texas that threatens and ultimately seeks to do away with the program. Many remain hopeful, however, that the current administration will continue to make DACA a priority and create a pathway for citizenship for these individuals who have been in the U.S. since childhood.
If you have any questions about this, please contact your assigned RIS Attorney. We will notify you of any updates as they become available.