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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 800,000 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 18th, 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 came after a long string of lower court decisions blocking the termination of DACA, and Dreamers and advocates challenging the decision to end DACA to 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 which 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, 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, this 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
  • Directing DHS to shorten the period of DACA renewal grant to ONE year instead of two
  • 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.

However, we do not yet know how the courts will respond to this 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.

How Can I Ask Questions and Get Assistance Now?

For free, confidential immigration legal help, to ask questions about the DACA program, and to seek legal assistance in renewing your DACA, call 311 and say “ActionNYC” or call 1-800-354-0365 between 9AM-6PM, Monday – 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.

Could the Administration Still Try to End DACA?

It is possible that the administration may still try to end DACA in a different way. We will monitor for any developments and continue to provide updates
However, this is a hugely important and positive decision 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?

For free, confidential immigration legal help, to ask questions about the DACA program, and to seek legal assistance in renewing your DACA, call 311 and say “ActionNYC” or call 1-800-354-0365 between 9AM-6PM, Monday – 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

Get connected to free, confidential legal help.
ActionNYC can provide free, confidential immigration legal help in your community, and in your language. To schedule an appointment call 311 and say "ActionNYC," or call the ActionNYC hotline directly at 1-800-354-0365 between 9AM-6PM, Monday – Friday.

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 report fraud, call the New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 between 9am-8pm, on Monday through Friday, or call 311.

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 site 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” or call the NYC Commission on Human Rights at (718) 722-3131.

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 City services, call the MOIA hotline at 212-788-7654, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm 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 during business hours, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.

  • 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, Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.