What is DACA and what does today’s deadline mean?

Thursday marks the deadline for thousands of participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to submit renewal applications even as the Trump administration has announced the “orderly wind down” of the program that protects hundreds of thousands of people brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.

The deadline applies to roughly 154,200 recipients whose benefits are set to expire prior to March 5, 2018. According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 106,000 have filed their renewals as of Wednesday.

The program, aimed at a group brought illegally to this country as children, allows those who are registered to work or attend school in the United States without fear of being deported. Those in the program must renew their registration every two years.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the administration would dissolve the program by 2020. Depending on a person’s renewal date, DACA recipients will begin to lose protection from deportation on March 5, 2018.

Here’s what you need to know about DACA.

What is the DACA program?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protects people brought to the United States illegally as children from being immediately deported if they are picked up by immigration officials. The program began in 2012 as an executive order by former President Barack Obama.

Is everyone in the program undocumented aliens?


What does the program do?

The program allows those eligible to request “consideration of deferred action” (on their immigration status) for a period of two years. The deferred action is subject to renewal.

Does that mean you are a legal citizen?

No. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, "Deferred action does not provide lawful status."

How many people are in the program?

Nearly 800,000 people are in the program.

Who is eligible for DACA?

Those younger than the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, if they came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have lived in the country continuously since June 15, 2007.

Any other requirements?

Those to be considered for the program must have a high school diploma or GED certification, have been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school. DACA recipients cannot have a criminal record.

When is the president going to end the program?

The end date, barring legislation to extend the program or grant citizenship for those already enrolled, is March 5, 2018. Recipients will be phased out depending on their renewal dates. By March of 2020, the program will end.

What has the president said about it?

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to end the program, then, after he was elected, said that ending DACA would be a hard decision to make.

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