Q&A: A look at the immigrant relief program known as DACA

AP News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2017 12:04 AM

Immigrants across the U.S. are anxiously waiting to see whether President Donald Trump ends an Obama administration program that prevents the deportation of those brought to the country illegally as children. Here's a look at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA:

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WHAT IS DACA?

Former President Barack Obama created DACA by executive order in 2012, providing temporary protection for immigrants brought to the United States by their parents before the age of 16 and who live in the country illegally.

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WHAT DOES DACA PROVIDE?

Under the program, recipients receive a Social Security number, allowing them to work, pay taxes, study and travel for a two-year period. Applicants pay $465 in fees and can renew after two years.

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IS DACA THE SAME AS THE DREAM ACT?

They are different programs but have similar concepts. The DREAM Act was federal legislation that would have provided many of the same protections as DACA, but it repeatedly failed in Congress. Obama bypassed Congress and created the deferred action program on his own with an executive action. Many DACA recipients are informally known as DREAMers because of the original proposal, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

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HOW MANY IMMIGRANTS ARE ENROLLED IN DACA?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers DACA, reported that 752,000 immigrants had been approved for the program as of December 2016. In 2012, the nonpartisan think-tank Migration Policy Institute estimated that about 1.75 million immigrants were eligible for DACA.

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CAN ONE TRAVEL UNDER DACA?

DACA recipients can apply for Advanced Parole, a provision that allows them to travel for family emergencies, education or work purposes for a $360 fee. USCIS estimates that at least 22,340 DACA recipients have traveled since 2012.

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WHERE DOES TRUMP STAND ON DACA?

While Trump has expressed some empathy for young immigrants, he promised to revoke the program during his campaign for president. He called DACA an illegal amnesty and vowed to "immediately terminate" it. Asked about DACA, Trump's spokesman said Monday that the president would focus first on border security and those with criminal records who live illegally in the U.S.

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WHAT HAPPENS IF DACA IS ENDED?

It's unclear what path Trump would take if he terminates DACA. He could stop new applications and let the existing work permits expire, or immediately seek out those enrolled to revoke their permits and begin deportation proceedings. Such efforts would be made easier by the fact that recipients had to provide their addresses and fingerprints to apply.

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WHAT SHOULD IMMIGRANTS ENROLLED IN DACA EXPECT IF IT'S ENDED?

DACA recipients who traveled under Advanced Parole and are married to a U.S. citizen can apply to adjust their status because they now have a required legal entry into the U.S. But most recipients could lose jobs, internships and other services they've gained since the program began, and ultimately they could face deportation.