On June 15, 2012, President Obama called for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the US as children and have pursued education or military service here. Applications under the initiative, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) began on August 15, 2012. Since then, over 1 553,197 youth in the US and 28,414 in New York State have obtained DACA. These youth can now obtain lawful employment and live free from fear of deportation.
In the years preceding DACA, millions had taken to the streets to demand a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. MRNY helped to lift up youth voices within this movement, pushing in particular for expanded educational opportunities for immigrant youth. The work of MRNY and many others resulted in serious congressional consideration of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to permanent residency for certain undocumented young people. After US Congress failed to act, President Obama announced DACA.
MRNY responded immediately, educating our communities about DACA and providing desperately needed immigration legal services to help young immigrants apply for DACA. Our attorneys, teachers and workforce specialists are also helping DACA recipients and their families access health care, learn English and obtain decent jobs.
DACA creates opportunities. But we need so much more. That’s why our members continue to elevate the importance of federal comprehensive immigration reform – and local pro-immigrant reforms – by sharing their stories, educating policymakers and engaging in the public debate. This report highlights lessons we’ve learned from the first two years of DACA implementation at MRNY’s offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island and outlines future plans. We hope you will continue with us on this journey.