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Expand and Protect DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) – 12 Years Old on Saturday

This Saturday marks the 12th anniversary since President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Over the years, the program has allowed more than 830,000 people who arrived in the US as children to earn higher wages, access better educational opportunities, and find stability in their lives. Despite the constant and ongoing legal challenges to the program, we have seen time and again how DACA has helped to grow our communities. Average hourly pay for DACA recipients increased 86%, leading to greater stability at home, increased purchasing power in their communities, and increased tax collections for cities, states, and the federal government.  6% of DACA recipients started their own businesses and 17% received professional licenses. DACA recipients pay $5.6 billion every year in federal taxes and another $3.1 billion in state taxes, leaving them with another $24 billion in after-tax spending power. DACA recipients are also parents to over 250,000 US citizen children and no longer need to fear separation from their families due to deportation.

But DACA was always intended as a temporary solution; a bandage to tide communities over until Congress passes the DREAM Act and provides people with a pathway to citizenship. Over a dozen different versions of the DREAM Act have been introduced in Congress since 2001, but it has always come up against significant opposition and has never been able to get through both chambers of Congress. And because DACA is an administrative action, future administrations could try to take it away just as the Trump Administration tried, and failed, to do. DACA also continues to face court challenges as anti-immigrant state’s attorneys general try to poke holes in the program’s legality. Without Congressional action, the benefits that DACA has brought to our communities and our families remain tenuous at best.

Unfortunately, DACA is not unique in this regard. Over 600,000 people across the country currently have Temporary Protected Status, which like DACA provides temporary work authorization and protection from deportation. Yet many have had this “temporary” status for a  quarter century now. They have built lives, homes, and families here, becoming integral parts of their communities, yet their futures remain uncertain. Haitians with TPS, for example, are still  waiting to hear from the Biden Administration whether their TPS will be renewed or will they be expected to leave when their TPS expires in early August. 

Unless and until Congress acts, it is up to the Biden Administration to insulate these programs from harm and protect those who have already contributed so much to the US. You can make your voice heard right now and tell the administration that they need to protect and expand DACA in order to keep our families and communities from being torn apart.