The Supreme Court’s decision to prevent phase-out or shutdown of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, means families can stay together, recipients won’t lose their jobs, and industries won’t lose valuable employees.
“Ultimately, it means far less threat of serious financial problems and heartache for families with individuals who have never committed a significant crime, have ‘followed the rules,’ and have paid almost $500 every two years to renew their status,” said Matthew Dolamore, director of the Esperanza Center.
The Esperanza Center has served 235 DACA recipients, who have been in the U.S. an average of 17 years.
DACA recipients were brought to the United States as children by their parents or guardians. In 2012, DACA was enacted as a policy that allowed individuals ages 15 – 30 who were brought to the U.S. as minors at least five years prior to be protected from deportation and be eligible to work. It set clear requirements for eligibility and does not provide a path to citizenship. The oldest DACA recipients are in their late 30s today.
“Allowing DACA to continue means that recipients who now have children of their own won’t lose their jobs or be subject to federal deportation decisions,” said Esperanza Center Immigration Legal Services attorney Mikhael Borgonos. “It prevents severe impact on families. At a minimum, those adults – be they under-educated or graduates of the highest degree – remain employable, which means they are more likely to prevent or escape poverty.”
Not only that, Borgonos explained, but allowing DACA recipients to remain means retaining motivated individuals in all levels of professions, boosting local, state and national economies. Plus, those who are still minors won’t face deportation without the parents or guardians who brought them here.
Of the more than 8,000 DACA recipients in Maryland, nearly half are in high school, college or graduate school. More than half are employed. Of those who are working in the state, 55 percent are employed in construction, food preparation and service, building and grounds maintenance, and health care.
Since DACA status need not be disclosed to an employer, even those employers don’t know who they might have lost under a DACA sunsetting or shutdown. Employed DACA recipients pay taxes, and there is no federal welfare eligibility for DACA recipients.
“The bottom line is that DACA recipients didn’t get here on their own, and they are helping our country by educating themselves, working, and paying taxes,” said Borgonos. “They would be model citizens if they were allowed to become citizens. They strengthen the United States.”