National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

DACA After One Year

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JUNE 14, 2013

DACA’s One-Year Anniversary!

Tomorrow (Sat., June 15) is the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After relentless and creative organizing by immigrant youth and their allies, President Barack Obama announced on June 15, 2012, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth and that these youth would be eligible for work permits. Below is a quick snapshot of highlights from this program, NILC’s work, and the future.

What we’ve learnedDREAMer rally outside the Los Angeles Federal Building on June 15, 2012, the day President Obama announced the DACA program.

  • From August 15, 2012, to May 31, 2013, 539,128 people applied for DACA. Mexico, South Korea, and the Philippines are among the top ten countries of origin.
  • The most effective DACA clinics were part of a collaborative effort between immigrant youth, attorneys, educational institutions, nonprofits, faith-based groups, and grassroots organizers. These clinics focused on providing legal support to attendees but also on building the leadership capacity and membership of immigrant youth organizations.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) FAQs have provided important clarifications on many aspects of DACA, including an explanation that you only need to list Social Security numbers that have officially been issued to you by the Social Security Administration.
  • In response to the many questions we’ve received about work-related issues, NILC created a FAQ to explain and provide guidance on workplace rights for DACA applicants and grantees.
  • USCIS has approved the vast majority of applications! This success is in response to widespread education efforts by advocates and community members to make sure qualified immigrant youth applied and submitted strong applications.

What NILC has done

  • NILC has trained over 300 people to volunteer at DACA clinics and answer questions about DACA; educated over 6,900 people about DACA through community forums, presentations, and webinars; and provided free review of DACA applications at 33 legal clinics.
  • Responded to over 500 DACA-related technical assistance calls and emails.
  • Created educational materials on DACA, including:
    • General FAQs in Spanish and English.
    • DACA and workplace rights FAQs in Spanish and English.
    • An overview of state requirements for obtaining driver’s licenses.
    • Information about federal health care reform and DACA.
    • Information about workplace rights and DACA.
    • Summary fact sheet about in-state tuition.
    • A table listing some of the state bills that address access to higher education.
  • NILC staffers Claudia Lara and Maria Cisneros volunteer at a DACA legal clinic hosted by the Immigration Youth Coalition, California’s Inland Empire, May 2013.Together with United We Dream, America’s Voice, and PICO, launched the Own the Dream campaign. The campaign is aimed at increasing the number of DACA applications by developing effective models; facilitating the coordination of national and local legal services, communications, technology, and data collection; and strengthening the immigrant youth movement.
  • As a member of the National Legal Implementation Strategy Team (NLIST), developed a comprehensive plan for legal representation as part of the overall Own the Dream campaign, created and updated the extensive referral list on the We Own the Dream website, developed an online screening tool that generates an individualized PDF for a potential applicant, and hosted and participated in in-person, Web-based, and telephonic trainings on DACA eligibility and the application process.
  • Led advocacy efforts to oppose the exclusion of DACA-eligible people from affordable health insurance options.
  • Together with United We Dream and other partners, led advocacy efforts to ensure that USCIS officials adopt the broadest and most generous interpretation of the DACA program.
  • Together with United We Dream and other partners, engaged in administrative advocacy with the Social Security Administration to ensure that their process for issuing Social Security numbers for DACA grantees is fair and workable.
  • Supported efforts to ensure that students granted DACA can enroll in college in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
  • Helped move forward campaigns to expand access to driver’s license regardless of status in over a dozen states — with new laws enacted in five states so far (IL, MD, OR, NV, CO).
  • Supported advocates in over a dozen states attempting to secure or improve access to in-state tuition, scholarships or state financial aid for students regardless of status—with new laws or policies enacted in four states (CO, HI, OR, MN)!
  • Joined the ACLU in a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s policy of denying driver’s licenses to DACA grantees, which helped pressure Michigan to change its policy!
  • Supported advocates in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Wyoming, and other states in ensuring that people granted DACA have access to driver’s licenses.
  • Press conference after the Mar. 22, 2013, hearing in Arizona federal district court on Arizona’s policy of denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients.Together with other civil rights organizations, filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s unconstitutional policy denying driver’s licenses to people who are granted DACA.

Looking forward

DACA is only a first step in recognizing the contributions of immigrant communities. In order to ensure that all immigrant communities are treated fairly and with justice, we must have a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million Americans without papers and an end to detention and deportation policies that separate families and communities. In collaboration with many of you, NILC has been working tirelessly to improve the Senate immigration reform bill (SB 744) to ensure that it safeguards immigrants’ rights. Your organizing and advocacy culminated in a bill that provides the best version of a DREAM Act ever!

We look forward to working with you to continue advocating for the most just and fair immigration reform law and implementation process.

PHOTOS — Top: DREAMers rally outside the Los Angeles Federal Building on June 15, 2012, the day President Obama announced the DACA program. Middle: NILC staffers Claudia Lara and Maria Cisneros volunteer at a DACA legal clinic hosted by Immigrant Youth Coalition - Inland Empire in southern California (May 2013). Bottom: Press conference after the Mar. 22, 2013, hearing in Arizona federal district court on Arizona’s policy of denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients.