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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Audio Description: Watch New York City DACA recipients share their stories about the importance of defending DACA, the federal immigration program that gives young immigrants the opportunity to work lawfully and provides temporary protection from deportation.



Recent Developments

As information on DACA develops, the information on this page may change quickly. You should get immigration legal help before submitting any kind of DACA application. Read below for more information.

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a federal immigration program begun in 2012 under President Obama that helps undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as young people. DACA provides eligible undocumented immigrants with temporary protection from deportation and access to work authorization.

On September 5, 2017, the White House announced the end of DACA, which has allowed over 825,000 young people known as Dreamers to avoid deportation and remain in the United States. The decision to end the program was challenged in federal courts.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Dreamers on June 18, 2020

On June 18 , 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled that Trump's efforts to end DACA violated federal law. The Court found that the Trump administration did not give an adequate reason for ending the program and therefore cannot carry out their previous plan to end it.

The positive decision, celebrated in statements by New York City officials, came after a long string of lower court decisions blocking the termination of DACA, and Dreamers and advocates challenging the decision to end DACA in the highest court in the land.

The decision indicated that the DACA program should go back to the way it was functioning before the administration’s decision in 2017 to terminate the program. Returning the program to its previous state would include not only renewal applications, but also first-time initial DACA applicants.

Department of Homeland Security Issues New Memo on DACA on July 28, 2020

On July 28, 2020, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf released a new memo titled "Reconsideration of June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children."

In response to the Supreme Court decision from June 18, 2020, the July memo seeks to make immediate changes while DHS continues to consider how to address DACA. Changes made by this memo include:

  • Directing DHS to reject all initial applications that may have been filed since the Supreme Court decision
  • Directing DHS to reject all advance parole applications except for those where exceptional circumstances may exist - such situations could include:
    • Travel related to supporting U.S. national security interests ;
    • Travel related to supporting federal law enforcement interests;
    • Travel to obtain life-sustaining medical treatment that is not available in the U.S.; or
    • Travel needed to support the immediate safety, well-being or care of a very close family member, such as minor children, spouse, or parents of the applicant.
  • Directing DHS to shorten the period of DACA renewal grant to ONE year instead of two
    • However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will generally NOT rescind any currently valid two -year DACA grants.
    • Additionally, if a DACA recipient's current two -year work permit is lost, stolen, or damaged, USCIS will replace it with the same expiration date.
  • Directing DHS to continue to use their discretion to “terminate or deny” any DACA grant when they determine appropriate to do so.

What Does this Mean for Dreamers Now?

Under the new memo, current DACA recipients would be able continue to renew their DACA but only for a one year period instead of a two year period, and first-time applications would be rejected. Additionally, under the new guidance, USCIS will generally reject requests received more than 150 days before the current grant of DACA expires. If you are unsure about whether or when you should renew, you should get trusted legal assistance.

We do not yet know how the courts will respond to this new memo in light of the Supreme Court's decision. Keep monitoring this page for updates and anyone who is a DACA recipient or may be eligible for DACA should continue to consult a trusted legal representative with any questions.

Could the Administration Still Try to End DACA?

The Supreme Court's decision does not prevent the Trump administration from trying to change or end the program again, but to do so, the administration must follow applicable federal law and give adequate reason to justify their action.

We will monitor for any developments and continue to provide updates. However, the Supreme Court decision was a hugely important and positive outcome for DACA recipients and their families who are also engaged in ongoing efforts in Congress to pass legislation that would provide permanent protections for Dreamers.

How Can I Get Assistance Now?

To get answers to your questions about the DACA program and to connect with City-funded, free and safe immigration legal help to renew your DACA, call the ActionNYC hotline at 1-800-354-0365 between 9am to 6pm, Monday through Friday. There may also be funds available to assist with DACA filing fees, subject to availability. Ask your legal service provider about this during your screening appointment.

You can also monitor the USCIS website for more information.

Additional Resources for DACA Recipients

Avoid fraud while seeking immigration legal help
Beware of unlicensed immigration service providers who take advantage of their customers. Get help only from a trusted, licensed attorney or an accredited representative. Only lawyers or those who have gotten permission from the Department of Justice can give legal advice. For questions about this, or to file a complaint about fraudulent immigration assistance service providers in New York City , call 311 and say "immigration service provider" or visit the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection website at nyc.gov/dca to file a complaint in your language. You do not have to give your name or immigration status to make a complaint.

To report immigration fraud and schemes against immigrants anywhere in New York State, call the New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 between 9am to 8pm, Monday through Friday.

For more information on how to avoid becoming the victim of immigration fraud, visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/immigrants/help/legal-services/avoid-fraud.page.

Get health insurance coverage
Current and former DACA recipients are eligible for New York State Medicaid if they are otherwise income eligible. For more information visit: https://info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov/DACAFactSheet. Any New Yorker who doesn't qualify for Medicaid can still access health services through NYC Care. To enroll visit: https://www.nyccare.nyc/enroll/ or call 646-692-2273.

If you're feeling anxious, stressed or depressed – help is available.
It's normal to feel anxiety and stress. ThriveNYC will give you access to mental health supports in your language. Call 1-888-NYC-WELL, text "WELL" to 65173, or go online to nyc.gov/nycwell.

Access to City and State Identification
IDNYC, New York City's free identification card, is available to all New Yorkers age 10 and up. To learn more about the many benefits and discounts available to IDNYC cardholders visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/card/how-to-apply.page or call 311 and say "IDNYC" for more information.

All New Yorkers can apply for a New York State driver license. For information about obtaining a NY State driver license visit:
https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/get-driver-license.

Access to Education
Students, including undocumented students and those with DACA, who meet certain residential and educational requirements, can access college financial aid through the New York State Dream Act. To begin your application, visit: https://www.hesc.ny.gov/dream/, and for more information visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/immigrants/downloads/pdf/NYS-Dream-Flyer-2019.pdf.

All New Yorkers may sign up for We Speak NYC classes, the City's English language learning program that provides civic-focused instruction through videos, web and print materials, and free community classes online and in all five boroughs.

Professional Licenses
In 2016, the New York Board of Regents authorized DACA recipients, who were otherwise eligible, to obtain a professional license and certain teacher certifications. A New York State professional license is valid for life unless it is revoked, annulled, or suspended by the Board of Regents. However, professionals are required to re-register with the New York State Office of Professions periodically. See the New York State Office of Professions website for more information.

Rights and protections against discrimination
As a New Yorker you have the right to be free from unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in the workplace, housing, and public places. If you face any such treatment, call 311 and say "human rights," call the NYC Commission on Human Rights directly at 718-722-3131, or visit nyc.gov/cchr.

How You Can Support NYC Dreamers

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New Yorkers have embraced the DACA program, and DACA has in turn provided thousands of New Yorkers with the opportunity to pursue higher education, their career goals, and to give back to the country they call home. Mayor de Blasio continues to advocate for the permanent protection of DACA recipients through the passage of legislation in Congress.



Questions?

For questions about this page or how to access many City services that are available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, call the MOIA hotline at 212-788-7654, between 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, or send an email to AskMOIA@cityhall.nyc.gov

How can I get involved?

  • Volunteer with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Visit nyc.gov/MOIAVolunteer or call 212-788-7654 between 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday .
  • Inform & Engage: Invite the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs to your community for a "Know Your Rights Forum". Visit nyc.gov/InviteMOIA or call 212-788-7654 during business hours, between 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.