With all the excitement over the president’s administrative relief program for parents of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, one aspect of the order has not drawn much attention: the expansion of the DACA program. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is the program granting work permits to some DREAMers. Here are the basics of the expansion of DACA under the program:
1. It removes the age cap. The Deferred Action Memo eliminates the requirement that an individual be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
2. The start date for the continuous residence period is advanced from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. At this time, to be eligible for DACA an individual must have resided in the United States continuously from January 1, 2010 up to the present.
3. DACA grants will now last three years instead of two. Effective November 24, 2014, all first-time DACA approvals as well as all DACA renewals shall be effective for three years instead of two.
There are estimated to be 300,000 to 400,000 people newly eligible for DACA, but in talking to organizations around the New York area that work with immigrants, there appears to be very little awareness of the expansion.
In my office, fewer than 5 percent of all inquiries from immigrants about administrative relief have been from people eligible under DACA. At CARECEN, where we field 30 to 40 questions a day about the November 20 order, some days we don’t get a single DACA question.
With DACA applications set to begin in just five weeks, it is important for those immigrants who came to the United States before they turned 16 and who have been living here continuously since January 1, 2010 to begin getting ready to apply for DACA.
You can get more information on DACA from both Catholic Charities at 631-789-5210 and CARECEN at 516-489-8330 (Nassau) or 631-273-8721 (Suffolk).