What is DACA?
On June 2012 the Obama administration created DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects young people that were brought to the US illegally by their parents from deportation. It also allows them to receive permission to work, to study and obtain driver’s licenses.
There are around 800,000 DACA recipients, including 5,000 Indians, and an additional estimated 6,000 individuals from India that might be eligible for DACA.
How these young Indians became undocumented?
For most South Asian recipients, their parents had come to the U.S. on temporary travel documentation such as tourist visas to seek better opportunities. Some of these recipients sought employment visas that never came through. These are some examples of how these young Indians became undocumented once they were already in the U.S.
Becoming DACA recipients
In order to apply for DACA, applicants had to be 30 years old or younger when the program was implemented. They had to prove that they had lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007 and that they had arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old.
Applicants also had to show they had no criminal records and that they were enrolled in high school or college, or serve in the military.
The application process takes several weeks and most applicants hire lawyers to help them with the process.
What will happen to Indian immigrants if DACA is not expanded by congress?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, DACA will be phase out, and will officially end in six months.
The Trump administration announced that those already enrolled in DACA will remain covered until their permits expire. However, no more applications will be accepted after September 5th.
DACA recipients whose permits expire before March 5, 2018, are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by October 5, 2017. DACA recipients, whose permits expire beyond March 5, will not be able to renew and could be subject to deportation when their permits expire. This will also apply to those that miss the October 5 deadline.
Facing deportation? President Trump said in a statement that he had advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activities or are members of a gang.
If Congress does not act, and does not pass a bill that will provide a path to citizenship for DREAMERS, it could mean that aside from facing deportations these young undocumented people could be forced to leave their current employers, take lower wage jobs, and will not be able to pay for college or help their families financially.
However, Trump tweeted that Congress had 6 months to legalize DACA and if they fail to do so, he will revisit the issue.