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Immigration

DACA 'Dreamers' are taking on Capitol Hill

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Updated December 06, 2017 11:56 AM EST

Protesters are out on Capitol Hill on Wednesday fighting for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects individuals who entered the country as minors.

DACA was announced in 2012 by President Obama and implemented as an executive action because The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act that had been introduced to Congress multiple times since 2001 and would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant children continually did not pass in both the House and Senate.

DACA recipients are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and meet several requirements to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years. The executive action provides many of the same protections that were present in The DREAM Act legislation but does not provide a path to citizenship. DACA recipients are often called "Dreamers" in reference to the failed DREAM Act.

To qualify, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and have lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Recipients could not have been older than 31 when the program was implemented; and they must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors.

The DACA program does not give undocumented immigrants legal status; rather, it provides a way for minors who either entered or remain in the country illegally to receive a two-year period of deferred action from deportation and makes them eligible for work permits and driver's licenses, and allows them the opportunity to enroll in colleges.

Since its implementation in 2012, DACA has aided nearly 800,000 people. Once applicants are approved, they are protected for two years and have opportunity to reapply continue their deferred action.

In September, President Trump announced that his administration would not accept any new DACA applicants and that it would allow the permits already granted to expire. However, the administration is also allowing DACA recipients whose protections expire in the next six months an opportunity to renew.

This move gives Congress time to act and revisit the DREAM Act of 2017 that has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security before any DACA status is lost.

When Obama implemented the DACA program through an executive action in 2012, many in Congress denounced the program as an abuse of executive power. In June 2013, almost all Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, including three Democrats, voted 224-201 to defund DACA. Many representatives argued that Obama did not have the authority to waive immigration law.

Although the House did vote to defund DACA, the program is largely funded by the $495 fee that is required by all DACA applicants.

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Here is what some lawmakers are saying about DACA:

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