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Definition

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Contributor(s): Trea Lavery

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program run by the United States Department of Homeland Security which allowed specific illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, known as Dreamers, to defer removal action for two years, a time period which could then be renewed. This program did not provide a path to lawful residency or citizenship.

DACA was announced in June 2012, under the Obama administration. However, in September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump announced that it would be ending the program. Immigrants whose DACA benefits would expire before March 2018 were given one month to renew before the government stopped accepting applications.

Immigrants were eligible for DACA benefits if they arrived in the U.S. before turning 16, had lived in the country since at least June 15, 2007, and were under the age of 31 at the time the program was announced, among other education and legal requirements. The program allowed Dreamers to remain in the country legally, enroll in college and acquire employment authorization.

Although a common concern about DACA and other similar immigration policies is that immigrants will take jobs from U.S. citizens, Dreamers have been shown to help the economy, as about 5 percent have started their own businesses, creating new jobs, and also give business to existing companies in the country. Immigrants in the country under DACA are more likely than those here illegally to be employed in skilled and white-collar professions, rather than manual and unskilled labor.

This was last updated in October 2017

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