On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden’s first day was a launch of a sweeping immigration overhaul that included directing the Homeland Security and Justice departments to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. His actions would shield undocumented immigrants brought to the country when they were children.
DACA grants protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. DACA was created by President Obama when Congress failed to pass “DREAMERS” legislation that had been a long-time bipartisan bill stretching over more than a decade. Under the Obama Executive Order, key provisions require applicants to be at least 15 years of age and be able to prove they were under age 16 when they came to the U.S. and had to be living continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2017. The Trump Administration tried to rescind the Obama-era program in 2017, and after a series of court challenges in June 2020, the Supreme Court rejected the attempt to end the DACA program.
The memo also urges Congress to enact legislation that would give permanent status and a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Biden plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill that will provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, overhaul border security operations, and address root causes of migration by assisting the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. For Dreamers, some agricultural workers, and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), this legislation will provide an expedited citizenship pathway for them by letting them apply for green cards immediately. At the 2018 CWLA National Conference, CWLA members were moved by a presentation of young “DREAMERS” and members later went to Capitol Hill in support of their cause.