One of President Obama’s legacies is the DACA Program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) of 2012, which provides temporary stays of deportation and work permits for young undocumented students and veterans who were raised as Americans. DACA recipients, known as DREAMers, undergo criminal background checks, pay application fees, and meet stringent eligibility criteria including that they came to the United States as minors, grew up in the United States, pursued an education or served in the military, and do not pose a threat to the country.
The Trump administration attempted to end the DACA program along with revocation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants’ Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows over 300,000 immigrants from countries affected by natural disasters, violence, and other dangers to remain in the US until conditions in their home nations improve. While the Trump administration’s attempt to end these key immigration programs was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court, the court also left the door open for future lawsuits to challenge the DACA program.
On July 17th, 2021, a Federal judge in Texas did just that, ruling that the DACA program was unlawful, again throwing the future of the DACA program into limbo. While the ruling will not affect current holders, it does halt the program’s ability to accept new applicants, leaving hundreds of thousands without a pathway to legal residency in the country they have lived in since childhood.
It is abundantly clear a permanent legislative fix is needed to protect DACA and TPS recipients. House Democrats’ American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (HR 6) would provide permanent legal protections and a pathway to citizenship for DACA and TPS recipients. The bill would let TPS recipients who have been in the US for at least 3 years prior to the enactment of the law apply for green cards, and, after five years, full citizenship. DACA recipients could apply for “conditional permanent residency” after meeting certain requirements; after receiving conditional residency, they could then apply for a green card after completing two years of a bachelor’s or technical program, receiving a degree from an institution of higher education, serving in the military for two years, or working for three years.
The American Dream and Promise Act, which passed in the House in March of 2021, could help as many as 2.5 million people obtain legal status and put them on a path to citizenship. Demand your Senators support H.R. 6 to protect DACA and TPS recipients.