Deportation Relief Program Is a Mixed Blessing for Young People Who Benefit

AP file photo a rally in support of DACA held in 2012

Two years ago today, on June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a new program that would allow certain young people who came to the country illegally as children or overstayed a visa to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

The program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has been a checkered success.

Young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, received immediate relief. But DACA isn’t permanent and needs to be renewed every two years. And while more than half a million people have enrolled in it, that’s a fraction of the country’s 11.7 million undocumented immigrants.

We caught up with more than a dozen of those same folks last week, as the two-year anniversary of the program’s announcement approached, asking them what they thought about the renewal process, which is now underway.

Fusion’s Andy Dubbin compiled more of the responses in these cartoons:

Recently, critics of the program have blamed DACA for an unprecedented rise in childhood migrants at the border. Opponents of the program say that initiative has given off a false impression that unaccompanied children will be shielded from deportation even if they cross the border illegally. In reality, only those who arrived before June 2012 are eligible for relief.

Still, similar criticisms have been voiced by Latin American leaders, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

A year ago, Fusion told the stories of 50 Dreamers who had received deferred action. The program was life-changing: people could work legally and, for the first time, they could feel relatively safe from the threat of deportation.

The answers varied, but some trends stood out. The $465 processing fee associated with the renewal was too expensive. Some called it “outrageous” and “extreme” (it should be noted that several called it “fair”).

“The permit should last longer,” said 19-year-old Delia Cruz Nochebuena, who lives in Dallas, Texas. “Renewing it every two years is a financial burden, as well as inconvenient.”

Another problem: the program isn’t comprehensive enough. While most of the DACA recipients didn’t expect a permanent solution within the two years of receiving the temporary relief, they’d still like to see it cover more people.

“I’d hoped that it would be less expensive and would include more Dreamers,” said Greisa Martinez, an organizer with the immigrant-rights organization United We Dream. “Now I’m fighting for my mom to have the same protection.”

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