Policy & Advocacy

Backgrounder on DACA

Year Published
  • 2020
  • English

Printable Version

Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).

- Pope Francis, 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

What is DACA?

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and met several criteria. As of June 2019, there were approximately 660,880 DACA recipients. DACA was modeled after the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that was initiated more than a decade ago but has not become law. The purpose of DACA was to utilize prosecutorial discretion to provide undocumented persons who were brought to the United States when they were children  with temporary relief from deportation  (deferred  action)  and  work  authorization.  The  status  expires  after  two  years,  subject  to renewal.

Why Should We Protect DACA Youth?

DACA holders exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to our nation. These young people have grown up in our country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. These educated, tax-paying individuals are a valuable part of our work force and our communities.

What is the Current State of DACA?

The  Trump  Administration  announced  termination  of  the  DACA  program  on  September  5, 2017, allowing a one-time renewal for those whose status was set to expire between September 5th and March 5,  2018.  The  termination  has  been  the  subject  of  litigation  and  multiple nationwide  preliminary injunctions. The injunctions did not allow new DACA applicants to apply for the program and create continued  uncertainty for  those  enrolled  in  the  program.  Most recently,  on  November  12,  2019,  the Supreme Court heard arguments relating to the legality of DACA. It is likely that the Supreme Court will issue its opinion in the spring or early summer of 2020. The Supreme Court can either uphold the program or can allow the termination of DACA to occur.

The Importance of a Legislative Solution

While the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates the future of DACA and of DACA youth, it is vital that we encourage Congress to act to provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship. The House passed H.R. 6 on June  4,  2019,  which  provides  critical  permanent  legal  protection  to  DACA  recipients and  other populations in need of protection. The USCCB's Committee on Migration Chairman has voiced support for the bill numerous times: issuing a March 15, 2019 statement endorsing H.R. 6, sending a letter to each Member of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the bill.

Although the House has acted on legislation that would support this population, no similar level of action has occurred in the Senate. If the Supreme Court ends the DACA program and there is no legislation that has  passed  the  Senate  and  the  House,  DACA  youth  will  face  an  uncertain  future  and  maybe  even deportation and family separation. For this reason, it is imperative that we turn our attention to the Senate and urge them to support a legislative solution for Dreamers that provides a path to citizenship, such as S.874, the Dream Act of 2019.


We ask you to engage with your elected officials to voice your support for these young people and call your  Senators  to  find  a  bipartisan  legislative  solution  during  this  Congressional session  to  protect Dreamers that provides a path to citizenship, such as S.874, the Dream Act of 2019.