Tuesday, Aug. 15, marked the five-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. At that time, the United States government began accepting applications for DACA. Like many government programs, it appears entrenched for the foreseeable future.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in North Carolina, there are 66,000 DACA-eligible undocumented youth residing in the state. This is three percent of the total in the U.S.
Ten states have threatened to sue to try to end DACA. North Carolina declined to sign onto the suit. Twenty attorneys general have signed onto a letter to President Donald Trump encouraging him to continue the program. North Carolina’s attorney general was in that group.
The aim of DACA is to keep eligible youth who came to the United States when they were children from being deported. Even though their parents came to or are in the country illegally, the kids can get a pass. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and a work permit they can renew every two years.
The program covers the youth, not their parents.
DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship, nor does it make student aid available. Federal welfare programs are not automatic under DACA.
Estimates vary, calculating that there are between 800,000 and 1.5 million undocumented DACA users nationwide.
To qualify for DACA, an illegal youth must be under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012; first came to the United States before their 16th birthday and have lived continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007 until the present.
Also, they must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time they apply. They must have come to the United States without documents before June 15, 2012, or their lawful status expired as of June 15, 2012.
The applicant must currently be studying, or have graduated from high school or earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or military; and have not been convicted of a felony or certain serious misdemeanors, including a single intoxicated driving offense.
Being in the DACA program currently does not allow for obtaining a professional license, nor does it allow for in-state tuition in North Carolina. With so many community college programs leading to professional licensure, directing students into programs that make sense is a challenge.
While campaigning, Trump was aggressive in promising to end the DACA program. Since he has been in office, however, his position has softened. In July, he said that the DACA decision was “very hard to make.”
While it is not clear from a quantifiable standpoint what effect DACA has had on the state economically, North Carolina is an active participant in the program.