In a recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security, more than 455,000 young undocumented immigrants have been granted permission to live and work in the U.S. during the first 13 months of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The news represents a significant milestone for the approximately 1 million undocumented youth known as Dreamers. Dreamers refer to undocumented youth who entered the country as children.
In June 2012, President Obama created a path to citizenship for these young people by creating the DACA program and allowing them to stay in the country for two years without fear of deportation. The government began accepting applications for the DACA program in August 2012. According the Department of Homeland’s data covering the past year, 588,725 people applied over the year and 455,455 were approved – about 77 percent.
Being approved for deferred action status means that undocumented youth can obtain a driver’s license and a job all without the continuous pressure of deportation. This status is granted for a two year period provided the recipient doesn’t commit a crime or is otherwise deemed subject for removal.
It remains unclear as to whether the House of Representatives will create a path to citizenship for Dreamers as they begin to craft their version of the immigration bill this fall. In the meantime, immigration rights group are calling on Obama to expand deferred action programs to a broader population of undocumented immigrants in order to create safeguards against deportation.