December 4, 2015: The Focus on DAPA and DACA Programs

The current 2016 Presidential debates are brining national attention to the complex issue of immigration in the United States. Candidates have proposed ideas ranging from the creation of a wall on the Mexican-American border to sustaining the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents Program (DAPA). The two parties sit on opposing sides of the spectrum in the question of keeping DAPA and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

An estimate of over four million people would be directly affected by the ratification of DAPA and DACA; policies that are designed to grant temporary pardon to qualifying unauthorized migrants for a set number of years. According to a November article by Latin Post, twenty-five states including Texas, Arizona, and Florida filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration policies. The states anticipate the United States Supreme Court to settle their grievances by February of 2016, before the upcoming presidential elections, which could potentially give them no choice in the matter of accepting the federal policy.

USCIS notes that the Obama administration introduced DACA in 2012 for unauthorized immigrants who entered the United States prior to their sixteenth birthday, along with other requirements found in the accompanying source. DACA, should not to be confused with the DREAM Act, which according to a White House fact sheet, grants conditional residency and allows immigrants who entered the country as minors steps to gain permanent residency in the United States by attaining higher education or serving in the United States military (among other extensive requirements). 

DACA grants a three-year provisional work permit for its qualified applicants to avoid deportation and the National Immigration Law Center highlights that DACA is also intended to extend temporary permits and prevent the deportation of parents of American citizens. However, on February 2015, the courts froze both granting permits as well as applications due to the disputes from states.

The future of DACA and DAPA lies not only on the justice system but also on the results of the 2016 presidential elections. According to NPR, Democratic hopefuls Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley hope to retain the Obama Administrations Deferred Action Policies, while most Republican hopefuls plan to get rid of the policy. Although, according to the same source, most presidential candidates from both sides desire to create policies that would enable unauthorized immigrants to gain legal residency to the United States.