Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), announced last summer by President Obama, prevents unjust and unnecessary deportation of hundreds of thousands of young people from the United States. It has been a lifeline for hardworking young immigrants brought to this country as children, enabling them to get an education, secure legal employment and safely emerge from the shadows. Sadly, young people from Haiti and certain other countries are being denied the same opportunity, simply because of a technicality in the DACA policy.
The problem: Under DACA, an applicant must have been out of immigration status on June 15, 2012, the day President Obama announced the new policy. This excludes young immigrants who on that day had Temporary Protected Status (TPS). One can gain TPS when the US government designates their home country as temporarily unsafe, as was Haiti after the devastating earthquake. As soon as the circumstances that caused the announcement of TPS for the country cease to exist, TPS can be terminated, leaving those who had TPS benefits subject to removal.
The reality: Many people with TPS share the same characteristics as DACA-eligible youth: they were brought to the US at an early age, have been living in the US for many years, and have attended schools and colleges here. If not for their TPS, they would be eligible for DACA. Under the current policy, however, when TPS is terminated for their home countries, these young immigrants will lose status and find themselves without recourse. And because they are known to the Department of Homeland Security due to their TPS applications, they will be at heightened risk of removal.
The solution: It is time to right this wrong and allow immigrant youths with Temporary Protected Status to apply for DACA.
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