Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On June 23, 2016, the United States Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked, four to four, in U.S. vs. Texas.  Consequently, the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Expanded DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs, initially announced in November 2014 by President Obama, remain on hold.  Importantly, the original DACA program announced by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, remains in place.

“Deferred Action” means that even though a person does not have legal status in this country and can be deported at any time, for those with DACA status, the United States government will agree to delay, or “defer” any actions to remove that person from the country.  If a person has DACA status, the government’s agreement to defer any deportation lasts for two (2) years (and this can be renewed), and during that time, the person can apply for a Social Security number and a work authorization.  DACA does not guarantee the possibility of obtaining legal permanent resident status (a “green card”), but DACA allows currently undocumented immigrants the ability to work and reside in the United States.

Not every person that is undocumented can get DACA status.  DACA is only available for people that meet a specific set of rules.  If you meet all seven (7) of these guidelines, you may request DACA:

  1. You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

If you have a criminal record or the United States government believes that you pose a threat to national security or public safety, you may be denied DACA benefits even if you are otherwise eligible.  You are not eligible for DACA if you have been convicted of:

  • a felony offense;
  • a “significant misdemeanor” offense; (this includes domestic violence offenses, sexual abuse/exploitation offenses, burglary, unlawful possession/use of a firearm, drug distribution/trafficking, or driving under the influence, or any other misdemeanor not listed above where you were sentenced to more than 90 days in custody);
  • Three (3) or more other misdemeanor offenses not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct.

If you have questions whether or not your criminal record disqualifies you from DACA, please fill out the Intake Sheet, and someone from the Public Defender’s Office will contact you. Click here to go to the Intake Sheet.