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Should immigrants apply for DACA in this election year?

Immigration has been a topic of much debate on the presidential candidacy trail this year. With mounting anti-immigrant rhetoric, many are wondering if it is even worthwhile to apply or renew their DACA status. As of now, DACA is still a viable option for many immigrants.

What is the DACA program?

DACA stands for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals. This program, which began in June 2012, offers protection to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The DACA status is valid for two years and is renewable. While it does not provide legal immigration status, it does allow qualified immigrants authorization to obtain a social security number and to legally work in the country. It also protects them from being removed from the country while in the program.

Who is eligible for DACA?

In order to be eligible for the DACA program, immigrants must meet the following requirements:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
  • Arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
  • Continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
  • Physically present in the U.S. on both June 15, 2012, and the date of the request for DACA status.
  • No lawful status as of June 15, 2012.
  • Presently in high school, a graduate of high school, obtained a GED, or an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
  • No criminal record and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The fee to apply for DACA is $465. Applicants are required to provide proof of eligibility such as documentation that proves identity, status, and presence in the U.S. before the age of 16. DACA status can be renewed every two years.

Is it worth it to apply or renew DACA status right now?

With President Obama preparing to leave office at the end of 2016, will the next President keep the program in place? Many immigrants are asking this question. And many are concerned that applying right now could expose them as illegal immigrants, putting them at a bigger risk of deportation. Unless the next President specifically takes action to terminate the DACA program, it will remain in place.

As of now, Immigrant Rights Advocates are still encouraging qualified immigrants to apply for the DACA program. Because of a large number of people who have already applied, specifically going after them would be extremely difficult both politically and financially for the next administration. They also recommend that immigrants seek out legal services to see what other programs they might be eligible for.

For anyone considering applying or renewing DACA status, it is best to speak with an experienced legal professional to learn more about the options that are available for immigrants today.

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