September 01, 2013

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Christina A. Fiflis

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an executive branch policy decision, announced on June 15, 2012, by former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. It defers immigration enforcement action against childhood arrivals to the United States who live here undocumented and meet specific eligibility requirements. DACA is an act of prosecutorial discretion to defer enforcement action against “low-priority” individuals. Guidance from Napolitano provides: “If an individual meets the guidelines of this process, CBP [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] or ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] should exercise their discretion on a case-by-case basis to prevent qualifying individuals from being apprehended, placed into removal proceedings, or removed.”

The intent of this article is to give a brief overview, perhaps more aptly put, a lengthy definition, of DACA and the DACA process. A more detailed summary of DACA can be found at uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals. Each DACA case is unique. The process is made to appear simple, but immigration laws are complex. Each case requires meticulous analysis of eligibility and attendant risks.

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