In a June 15 news release on its website, The Department of Homeland Security announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has protected countless immigrants from deportation, will be allowed to continue until further notice.
DACA, first established under the Obama Administration, protects undocumented immigrants brought into the country as minors from deportation, placing them as low-priority targets. The program also allows beneficiaries to apply for renewable work permits.
According to Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ immigrant rights organization, deferred action “is a discretionary, limited immigration benefit [that] can be granted to individuals who are in removal proceedings, who have final orders of removal, or who have never been in removal proceedings. Individuals who have deferred action status can apply for employment authorization and are in the US under color of law.”
Among the many individuals who can breathe easy after the DHS’s announcement are immigrant college students—many of whom are protected by DACA—whose educational progress is at risk of being stunted should they be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Enrique Romo, Executive Director of Access and Diversity at Weber State University celebrated the announcement, claiming it would put their students at ease.
“It sends a strong message to these young students. … Our college students will have the opportunity to continue with their lives,” he said.
Romo has high expectations for immigrant enrollment at Weber in the coming terms, saying “I don’t anticipate any changes because basically out students will kind of continue to have the same access and benefits they did if they’re DACA recipients.”
Throughout the U.S. presidential race, many immigrant college students across the country were concerned by President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration promises, which included the construction of a border wall and a ban of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries (currently under hold).
“You can’t be comfortable. You have to be prepared for the worst,” said one regarding Trump’s campaign promise to cease the DACA program – one that fortunately did not materialize.
Not everyone is impressed by the move, however, as some still have their doubts for immigration enforcement.
According to Dr. Arturo Aldama, Associate Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, “On face value this might make dreamers less anxious.”
“I don’t know if this will mean that DACA youth will be less targeted or their legal rights will be respected if they are arrested, or will they be in a protracted ICE holding center as they appeal their arrest?” he said.
True to form, a White House spokesman released a statement immediately after the DHS announcement, saying that DACA would still be under review. It’s worth noting that in his first interview since taking office, President Trump, voted TIME’s Person of the Year, said that he would “work something out” for DREAMers that would “make people happy and proud.”
Only time will tell what exactly the White House intends to finally do with the thousands of young immigrants protected by DACA. If you, or a loved one, are under DACA status and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm.