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DACA Turns 10 Years Old, But It's Been a Decade of Ups and Downs

DACA advocates march near Trump Tower in August in New York City. The government says it will resume DACA renewals.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images

DACA recipients must reapply every two years, Trump tried to end the program, and new applications aren't being processed.

DACA, the so-called Dreamers program, aimed at protecting people brought to the US as children from being deported, is now 10 years old.

But it has been a rocky decade. The Trump administration tried to end the program entirely. And today the program only accepts renewals —not new applications.

Fernando Urbina of ImmigrationHelp.org said that isn’t stopping anyone from applying though.

“Technically they’re still able to submit their applications, applying for the first time, they’re just not being processed,” he said. “A lot of these people are hoping that even if they submit, hopefully in the near future new applications will start to be accepted again, and so they’re sort of trying to put themselves in line.

DACA was supposed to be temporary, an executive action while Congress passed legislation. But 10 years later, we’re still waiting.

Urbina said this is making for a lot of anxiety among the low-income immigrants he works with.

“A lot of these individuals are very fearful even if they are currently enrolled in the DACA program, and the reason is because the program has been so in flux these past few years, there have been constant changes, constant rulings by different courts,” he said.

There is a need for renewals because protection from deportation and work permits are only granted for two years at a time, adding to the anxiety.

Urbina explained another route Dreamers can take to a green card.

“Advance parole is basically permission for DACA recipients to leave the country and then come back for humanitarian reasons or education reasons or business reasons and if they leave the country on advance parole and then come back that technically counts as a legal entry at that point,” he said, “and so from there they’re able to also apply for a green card.”