It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since the Obama Administration implemented new immigration policy allowing certain young immigrants to apply for temporary protection from deportation and removal. The policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allows immigrants who meet certain requirements to apply to work and attend school in the United States for two years.
The policy requires that applicants have no criminal record and were brought to the United States as children. Additionally, qualifying applicants must have graduated high school, be in high school or have served in the military. There are also a mandatory requirements that the applicant must have been living in the United States for at least five years and be younger than 30 as of June 15, 2012.
At the time DACA was put into place, it was expected that Congress would pass comprehensive immigration reform within the next two years, which is why the two-year deference was set. However, reaching an agreement on immigration reform is proving to be more difficult, though it is still possible.
So far, 575,000 young immigrants in South Carolina and the rest of the United States have applied for DACA, which is much less than the administration expected. Unfortunately, many of those who applied found that they did not qualify for DACA because of the many requirements that are in place, including the requirement of entering the United States before the age of 16.
Even those who were granted deferred action say they are now beginning to worry as time is running out. At this point, the U.S. Senate has agreed on an immigration reform bill that would provide a path to citizenship for these individuals and millions of other undocumented immigrants, but the U.S. House appears to be far from agreeing to the proposal.
Lawmakers in the House will resume talks on immigration reform when they return from their summer break.
Source: WBUR Boston, "As Deferred Action Turns 1, Young Immigrants Seek Broader Reform," Asma Khalid, Aug. 15, 2013