What Is DACA and Has It Changed Under Trump?

You asked, we answered. Last week was the fifth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provides work permits and a temporary reprieve from deportation for almost 800,000 young people who came to the United States as children, are undocumented, and meet certain stringent conditions.

The Q&A below is taken from a Facebook Live featuring Jessica Colotl, a DACA recipient whose DACA was recently revoked by the Trump administration, only to be reinstated by a judge; Michael Tan, a staff attorney in ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and Jessica’s lawyer; and Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s director of immigration policy.

How can we protect DACA?

Lorella Praeli: I think, in a lot of ways, in order to talk about how to protect DACA, it’s important to tell the story of how DACA happened. DACA happened because people had the courage to come out of the shadows, even though they maybe would have faced the risk of deportation or they were exposing their lives and making themselves vulnerable. We decided to come out and tell our stories. We decided to organize. And for all of the young people watching, as young people ourselves, we decided that we had the agency and the knowledge and the ability to develop our own strategy, to use every tool at our disposal, to make sure that we built our movement and that we built our campaigns.

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Lorella Praeli: And so when I came to D.C. in 2012, first in 2010, and all through 2011, there were people who were doing the work who had laid down the foundation. But we were still pushing space that didn’t think Dreamers had the right to be there, that didn’t think that young undocumented people could sit at the table and decide for themselves: This is the strategy, and this is the way that we’re going to go forwards. And so for all of you watching, really, when it comes to DACA, it is purely discretionary.

How does DACA change a recipient's situation?

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Jessica Colotl: I can now basically have the American Dream. I am able to work and live without fear. It’s a life-changing event when DACA happened. I went from not being able to work, not being able to drive, living in fear, not knowing what could potentially happen to me, how would my future unfold, to eventually having some sense of what I can do to help myself and how I could prepare better for the future. I came to the United States when I was 11 years, and I’ve been in the United States, and Georgia specifically, for over 18 years. That’s home to me. And once again, when DACA happened, I was just so blessed. And every time I think about it, I still feel goosebumps, when I knew that it was going to change the lives of many people like myself out there. People who in a way felt rejected by society. We were forthcoming and just happy to be part of a bigger community, as it should have been from the beginning.

Why don't undocumented people just do the right thing and get legal status?

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Lorella Praeli: We always get this question, which is why can’t they just get in line, why can’t they get legal, or do the right thing? And the answer is the whole point of the Dream Act, the whole point of fighting for common sense immigration reform, is to create that line that people can jump on. My mom now has a green card for the last few months, but if my mom at any moment when she was undocumented was given an opportunity to get on a line and pay and provide the documentations to say that she’s been here and come forward, she would have done it in a heartbeat. So that’s what we’re fighting for here at the ACLU. That’s what so many of our partners have been fighting on for more than a decade. And we are going to need you all to continue that fight.

Are applications for DACA currently being approved? How many people have gotten approved in 2017?

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Lorella Praeli:  So in terms of our applications currently being approved, they are being approved, but we encourage you to be careful and to make sure that you have an attorney who is reviewing your applications. And in terms of whether or not they will be approved in 2018 or throughout 2017, all we know is that it’s being approved right now and the USCIS actually released new updated data from the last three months since Trump has been in office. We don’t know if they will be approved in 2018. If they’re not, we will make sure to let you know, as will other organizations. But for now, they are being approved.

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Anonymous

This illegal alien's writing was horrible! One is unable to understand what he or she is trying to say! But understand this. I don't give a damn that your parents did not give a hell about you and brought you to the USA as a kid. I am not crying for you nor is this going to sway my sympathy towards you. Your parents were abusive for bringing a child under harsh conditions illegally to our country. Blame them for your illegal status. We fed your sorry ass, we housed you, we provided free medical free dental free education so now get your sorry illegal butt and your parents back to your country. I am sick and tired of you all wanting a handout get the hell out of our country.

Anonymous

Cry me a river.... I'm pretty sure you are the one getting handouts.

Anonymous

DACA KIDS HAVE A HIGHER BAR to live & work in the US and thus have to be better U.S. workers than naturally born U.S. citizens. Agree?

How so? Well..do naturally born US citizens "have to" graduate from H.S. or have a GED? No. But DACA kids do. Do natural born US children have to had avoid convictions of a felony or major misdemeanor? Hell no..they can get arrested many times and not be in fear of losing their citizenship. But DACA kids do. Each of those 700,000 kids are individually evaluated every 2 years to make sure they are abiding by those guidelines and many more. So, DACA kids have a higher bar to be better potential U.S. citizens that contribute to our society in a more positive way than naturally born US citizens.

The Anti Deplorable

Wow! We all can obviously see the hatred to that first comment and all the pure ignorance that's within you. It obviously has to come from a Conservative and Trump supporter who has been filled with lies by the Bigot trump and was lied by Don The Con tremendously and is fogged by the BS. Conservative means to not let anyone else besides them selfs triumph and prevent any one else from reaching the top of ladder. It's all about them always. Let me guess you also hate muslims, you are afraid of people taking your job, you believe the earth is flat, and you watch Alex Jones and FOX News all day. No wonder we can clearly see through your insecurities. Take a chill pill. Actually America was built by immigrants for immigrants by the Great liberal forefathers. The South lost the war get over it and join the KKK where you would fit in perfectly.

Anonymous

Damn XD how can someone be so hateful... Instead of projecting your problems on to a group of people maybe you should revaluate yourself hmm

Anonymous

If you support deporting innocent children then by all means, you should be in support of changing all laws so that all children who have parents who break the law should go to jail with their parents. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Anonymous

Many of the young brought here by their parents when young, need compassion and understanding, not vitriolic hatred. If only people would stop the fear and hatred and improve all our lives by accepting one another, and helping those who need it. We can help these young people by taking away the fear of deportation with immigration reform that is humane. All the issues today, Health Care, Climate Change, Regulations of Financial entities ....the list goes on, has only one thing in mind for Republicans......tax cuts for the wealthiest....the rest of the poor, the middle class......you are all on your own.

Let me inform y...

You need to do research about undocumented people rights, THEY HAVE NO RIGHTS AT ALL no medical, no dental no food stamps, if they can't show a SSN card and can't prove legal status, they DON'T QUALIFY period. Go to your DHS and ask for an application and read what are the requirements to qualify for any kind of help.

Anonymous

Let me tell you who's writing is horrible, yours. If you are unable to understand this I pity you.

Anonymous

You are a stuppid asshole that must have a good life but to you stuppid idiot we work hard to get food on the table i am sure the way you talk you never had to struggle in life

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