A Decade of DACA: Understanding the Program’s Past, Present, and Future

Scott Brown
Center for Migration Studies

Editorial Credit: Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock.com

A Decade of DACA: Understanding the Program’s Past, Present, and Future

June 15, 2022 marks 10 years since President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Despite litigation and short-lived policy reversals, DACA now provides work authorization and protection from deportation to over 650,000 recipients. Although the program does not provide a pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship, DACA remains one of the most critical immigration programs of the last decade.

Several CMS publications offer insights on the the past, present, and future of DACA:

Published ahead of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling against the Trump Administration’s attempt to rescind DACA, this article provides a statistical portrait of DACA recipients. Listen to the author (a DACA recipient herself) discuss the contributions of DACA recipients on the CMSOnAir podcast.

This article offers estimates of US immigrant populations that are eligible for special legal status programs (e.g., DACA, TPS, DED) or permanent residence under pending bills. These detailed statistical profiles are a unique tool for policymakers, government agencies, community-based organizations, and researchers to assess the impact of these programs. Several pending bills – the Dream Act of 2021, the American Dream and Promise Act, and the US Citizenship Act of 2021 – would make DACA recipients eligible for permanent status.

Drawing on interviews with more than 40 agencies and 66 individuals, this report describes how immigrant service capacity has grown steadily over the last 25 years and advanced dramatically during the first four years of the DACA program. It points to how expanded legal screenings could put many on a path to permanent status without legislation as well as the need for legal service providers to work more closely with the agencies immigrants rely on.

The COVID-19 Pandemic increased the visibility and underscored the importance of frontline workers. This publication gives a breakdown on DACA recipients’ contributions as front-line workers. The author also discusses the impact of the pandemic on the capacity of administrative agencies responsible for program implementation.

In response to the Trump Administration’s effort to terminate DACA, CMS Executive Director Donald Kerwin dispels falsehoods and discusses the importance of the bipartisan program:

Despite the program’s strong and wide bi-partisan support, the Trump administration announced today its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation to roughly 800,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. This decision is an injustice to these talented young people and a disservice to our nation.

This press release breaks down the Supreme Court’s historic ruling to uphold DACA amid the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate the program. In a swift reversal upon assuming office, President Biden issued a memorandum to the Attorney General and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to preserve and fortify DACA.


June 15, 2022