Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allows some individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the U.S. To be eligible for the program, recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their records. Unlike the proposed DREAM Act, DACA does not provide a path to citizenship for recipients, known as Dreamers. The policy, an executive branch memorandum, was announced by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for the program on August 15, 2012.
In November 2014, President Obama announced his intention to expand DACA to cover additional illegal immigrants. Multiple states immediately sued to prevent the expansion which was ultimately blocked by an evenly divided Supreme Court. Under President Trump the United States Department of Homeland Security rescinded the expansion on June 16, 2017, while continuing to review the existence of the DACA program as a whole. Plans to phase out DACA were announced by the Trump Administration on September 5, 2017; implementation was put on hold for six months to allow Congress time to pass the Dream Act or some other legislative protection for Dreamers. Congress failed to act and the time extension expired on March 5, 2018, but the phase-out of DACA has been put on hold by several courts.
Research has shown that DACA increased the wages and employment status of DACA-eligible immigrants, and improved the mental health outcomes for DACA participants and their children. It also reduced the number of illegal immigrant households living in poverty.
In August 2018, USCIS estimated there were 699,350 active DACA recipients residing in the United States. Immigration researchers estimate the population to be between 690,000 and 800,000 people.