DACA Turns 4: How to Achieve Complete Success for Young Immigrants

FIRST DACA applicant AZ
Photo credit: Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Four years ago today, the first applications for the process called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) started rolling in for USCIS consideration.

To this date, most of the individuals eligible to immediately apply have done so.

According to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute, 1.3 million young undocumented immigrants age 15 and older were eligible to apply for DACA. Another 398,000 individuals met all other criteria to be eligible except for the high school, GED or current school enrollment requirement.

Of those who were immediately eligible, 63 percent had applied as of March 2016. When one includes the population that does not meet the educational criteria, that number falls to 48 percent.

Even though there is a population of young immigrants still on the sidelines, the rate of renewal for those who apply is an encouraging 93 percent, which signals to researchers that those who apply find the opportunity invaluable in spite of the costs.

For this reason, DACA must be continued and expanded, and those left behind must be included. Here are some actions you can take to make DACA a success:

1. Support politicians who plan to continue and expand immigrant opportunities.
Good politicians understand the realities of immigrant communities, appreciate the economic benefits of integration, and celebrate young undocumented immigrants’ stories of perseverance and success. Reward these politicians with your vote this November.

2. Keep the pressure on Congress to work on permanent solutions.
Support immigration reform efforts that include the DREAM Act to push for a total, permanent integration of DACA recipients and their families into the fabric of our country.

3. Encourage schools, churches and community centers to reach out to potential DREAMers.
Educators, pastors, social workers and even the general public must be knowledgeable about the DACA process and its requirements in order to encourage undocumented youth to apply.

4. Share information about how to complete the educational criteria.
Follow this link for resources about GED enrollment and share it with your contacts.

5. Donate to DACA Funds.
Many undocumented families lack the resources to pay for application fees. At $465 a pop, it may be a huge deterrent for undocumented families who live in poverty. Follow this link to donate to Chicanos por la Causa’s Do Not Leave Them Behind fund, which gives DREAMers in need a check to pay for DACA fees. Earmark your donation by adding “DACA funds” to the comment box.

6. Prepare a list of trusted nonprofits in your community that offer low-cost immigration services, as well as immigration lawyers who tackle complex cases.