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Reaching the Six-Month Mark on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

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The Department of Homeland Security issued new data about the Obama Administration’s initiative that offers deferment from deportation and temporary work permits to young undocumented immigrants. “In the first six months of the program (August 15–February 14), 423,634 out of the roughly 936,933 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 who might immediately meet the requirements, have had their applications accepted for processing.”

As the program continues to move forward, states have addressed several issues that have arisen. Once a DACA recipient receives a work permit, they are then eligible for Social Security cards. In many states, as long as they meet the requirements, they should be eligible for a driver’s license, but that is not always the case. The Department of Homeland security is doing all they can to clarify that DACA recipients are “lawfully present” but not every state is cooperating.   Many are refusing to issue driver's license to DACA aleiens.  Arizona is determined to change the rules so they may deny DACA recipients driver’s licenses. The National Immigration Law Center tracks such cases and has filed a lawsuit in Arizona challenging the state rules, but cases such as these take time.

Another issue is the access to health care and insurance for individuals granted deferred action. The Obama administration announced that these young immigrants are not eligible for provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Prior to August 30, 2012, DACA-eligible recipients would have been given the same access to health care and insurance as other individuals granted deferred action.

Within the next six months, the program will experience several more challenges including a slow down within the system. The beginning cases were straightforward, but more people who may not meet the requirements are submitting forms to see if they can qualify. Applicants are still encouraged to show discretion and only apply if they meet the strict requirements and ask for help when they need it. With talks of a new immigration system that would offer legal permanent residence or even citizenship, many are reconsidering applying for the DACA program as the cost for applying and trust of handing over all of one’s personal information are at stake. Both will likely affect the number of applicants within the next few months.

The government is closely following the DACA recipients and the challenges they face as these areas will show a lot about what challenges will occur with a more permanent legalization program that Congress is considering now. If you have questions regarding applying for a visa or immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

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