After Deferrals, What Next?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative will free qualified undocumented immigrants from the fear of deportation and will even grant them work authorization for two years, but for undocumented immigrants the initiative will not solve problems in the long-term, according to experts. DACA will not grant immigrants the same privileges as visas and green cards and DACA does not provide a path to green cards or to citizenship. In fact, DACA will grant authorization and freedom from deportation for only two years. While the status is renewable, it does not provide the permanence or stability of a green card.

Further, some states have already passed measures in order to ensure that DACA participants will not have access to benefits. For example, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has put in place an executive order that bars illegal immigrants granted DACA status from getting driver’s licenses and public benefits. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has also publicly stated that in Nebraska undocumented immigrants – even those who are granted DACA status, will still be denied public benefits, driver’s licenses, welfare, and other benefits. Other states may follow suit, ensuring that DACA participants have fewer rights than asylum seekers, refugees, green card holders, and others who are also permitted to remain in the US.

Immigrants advocacy groups say that they are overwhelmed with requests from undocumented immigrants hoping to apply for DACA status. DACA is part of a move by the Obama administration to place focus and resources on deporting only those undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to US residents. The move is also a way to address the plight of millions of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children and had no say in the matter and have now grown up in a country without resident status.

DACA has been slammed by some Republicans and other legislators as a type of amnesty. Some also say that the rush of undocumented immigrants seeking new benefits that they now qualify for may place undue pressure on state economies. Many Latino leaders and immigration advocates have welcomed the DACA measure, although some have stated that DACA does not go far enough since it only confers status for a few years without any hope for long-term legal immigrant status. Even those who qualify for DACA may not be able to pursue an education if their states continue to charge them out-of-state tuition rates and DACA status holders will need to face the possibility of being denied their new status when they renew they DACA application every two years.