While comprehensive immigration reform flounders in the United States Congress, the presidential decree known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has now well passed its one year anniversary. Initiated in August 2012, DACA is an exercise in executive discretion that allows USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to grant temporary lawful status to qualified immigrant youth. People under 31, who arrived in the US before they were 16, and have resided permanently in the US for the past five years are potentially eligible for DACA as long as they are studying or have completed at least a high school degree or equivalent. The relevance of this limited form of immigration relief is underscored by the stalled attempts at wider reform. The common understanding is that some aspect of immigration reform will either pass Congress this month or not at all until 2015 given the coming election year. President Obama has promised to put immigration reform back in the spotlight after the October government shutdown put all government business on hold. His meeting on November 7th with Senator John McCain, a prominent Republican leader on immigration reform and one of the “gang of eight” who drafted the Senate bill, seems to indicate movement in this direction. The political stars appear to be aligning in favor of some type of immigration reform. A recent poll by the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that 71% of those polled favor immigration reform and 54% would be less likely to support an elected representative who opposed reform.
Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals in Review