Three years ago today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would implement a policy to make our immigration enforcement policies smarter and more representative of our values as a nation. The policy, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA), has allowed many young people who were brought to the United States as children to step out of the shadows so they can fully contribute to our economy and our society.
Those who have been approved for deferred action on a case-by-case basis include more than 650,000 young people who are ready to give back to the only country they have ever known. They are American in every way but on paper. As we take this time to reflect on the impact of the DACA policy announced in 2012, we recognize that the young people who were able to emerge from the shadows are more than just numbers and statistics, they are aspiring Americans -- each with a unique story and contribution to this country.
As we heard the President say in his last meeting in the Oval Office with DREAMers, thanks to DACA:
Young people who didn’t think it would be possible for themselves to go to college suddenly are going to college. Young people who didn’t think that it might be possible to start a business suddenly find themselves in a position to look at starting a business. Young people who have memories of their mothers weeping because they couldn't go to the funeral of their parent now have seen the prospect, the hope, that their lives can stabilize and normalize in some way.
Throughout the last three years, the President, Vice President, and other Administration officials have had the opportunity to meet DACA recipients and hear their inspiring stories, including:
We also know that DACA has helped to lift up communities and improve local economies. A new report from Center for American Progress shows the potential economic benefits of deferred action policies with new state-by-state data. According to the report, the DACA policy — together with the expanded deferred action guidelines announced last November, which are currently on hold pending litigation — would grow the economy by $230 billion over 10 years if fully implemented. This report builds on analysis by the President’s Council on Economic Advisers, which found that the President’s executive actions would boost the nation’s GDP and increase productivity and wages of all American workers.
Today marks an important milestone, but it’s important to remember that the DACA policy announced in 2012 continues and people can still request DACA. It is also critical that individuals seeking a renewal under the 2012 DACA guidelines submit the appropriate materials at least 120 days before their current period of deferred action expires. To learn more about the guidelines necessary for applying for DACA or the renewal process, click here.
And while this policy has made a difference in the lives of so many, the only way to have a lasting solution to our broken immigration system is for Congress to pass comprehensive, commonsense immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to earned citizenship.