President Obama has announced changes to the immigration enforcement system that will allow as many as 5 million immigrants to remain and work legally in the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive program that allows certain undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children to stay and work on a temporary basis.
For many immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents who are afraid of being deported, this is a big victory. DACA, however, has two major flaws.
- DACA technically does not grant an immigrant any legal status.
DACA is an executive action by President Obama which grants the youths (to qualify, the immigrant must be under the age of 31) work permits and deportation deferrals. DACA does not, however, grant these youths green cards, visas, or formal immigration status, which can only be granted by Congress. There is absolutely no correlation between receiving a work permit/deferral and becoming a lawful permanent resident or U.S. Citizen. In addition, the work permit or deferment can be revoked at any time.
- The future of the parents of the youths protected under DACA is far from certain.
Parents of many immigrants protected under DACA have simply been left out of the reform. Imagine a mother who entered into the U.S. without inspection or whose lawful immigration status has expired. The mother brought her young children with her. Assuming these children meet all of the requirements under DACA, they will be able to receive work permits and deportation deferrals. They will be able to live in the U.S. for some time without fear of being deported. The mother, however, is not granted the same protection. She could still face deportation and the children could be separated from their mother. Awarding certain protections to one family member but not the other breaks the family unity rather than protecting it.