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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.


Please note

Under a federal district court order, effective December 7, 2020, USCIS is required to begin accepting first-time applications for DACA and accepting applications for advance parole, change the renewal term back to two years, and automatically extend to two years the one-year renewal grants they have adjudicated since the July 28th memo.

Litigation surrounding DACA continues to develop, and the most up to date information on the program and how it functions may change quickly. You should get immigration legal help before submitting any kind of DACA application. Call ActionNYC at 800-354-0365, Monday through Friday between 9AM to 6PM, to connect with City-funded, free and safe immigration legal help. We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.

Page updated December 10, 2020.

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.

What is the Current Status of the DACA?

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. This decision to end the program was challenged in federal courts, and eventually reached the Supreme Court.

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

Following the Supreme Court's decision, despite lower federal court orders to the contrary, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not reinstate the DACA program to its 2012 form. Instead, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf released a new memo on July 28, 2020 titled "Reconsideration of June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled 'Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.'" This memo outlined new limitations to the DACA program, including rejecting first-time applications, shortening DACA renewal and work authorization periods from two years to one, and restricting instances in which someone could apply for advance parole. Advocates and states challenged the validity of this new memo in federal court and won.

Federal Court Ruling Invalidates DHS's July 28, 2020 Memo, Reinstates DACA

On November 14, 2020, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an opinion regarding the July 28, 2020 memorandum issued by DHS Acting Secretary Wolf. The District Court found that Acting Secretary Wolf was not lawfully appointed to his position; thus, the July 28, 2020 memo he issued limiting the DACA program was invalid.

On December 4, 2020, the federal district court ordered DHS to take certain actions to fully reinstate the DACA program to how it was functioning before the Trump Administration's termination efforts. Effective December 7, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is:

  • Accepting first-time applications for DACA based on the eligibility terms set forth in 2012;
  • Accepting applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy in 2012;
  • Continuing to accept DACA renewal requests that will result in two-year grants instead of one; and
  • Automatically extending any one-year renewals of DACA and work authorization to two years.

Will There Be Any More Limitations or Termination of DACA?

  • DHS has stated that they may seek to overturn the recent federal court ruling and order reinstating DACA, but in the meantime, this decision and the requirements placed on DHS remain in effect.
  • There is also a federal court case pending in Texas about the legality of the DACA program. If the judge in that case finds DACA illegal, then the program will be at risk again.
  • We will monitor for any future developments and continue to provide updates. However, the recent decision and order reinstating DACA is a hugely important and positive outcome for DACA recipients, eligible individuals, 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 apply for DACA or renew your DACA, call ActionNYC at 800-354-0365, Monday through Friday, between 9am to 6pm. 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

Cities for Action created a toolkit to help keep DACA recipients and impacted communities informed about the current status of the DACA program, light the pathway to resources, including financial resources, amid a constantly shifting landscape, and offer tools to both elevate the voices of DACA recipients and impacted community and drive the message that DACA recipients strengthen the social and institutional fabric of the United States. Visit citiesforaction.us/citiesfordaca for more information.

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 800-566-7636 between 9am to 8pm, Monday through Friday.

Learn more about how to avoid becoming the victim of immigration fraud.

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 the NY State of Health website. Any New Yorker who doesn't qualify for Medicaid can still access health services through NYC Care. To enroll visit the NYC Care website or call 646-692-2273.

If you're feeling anxious, stressed or depressed – help is available.

It's normal to feel anxiety and stress. You can talk to an NYC Well counselor who can provide you with confidential support. NYC Well can also connect you to mental health care in your language. Call 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 photo identification card, is available to all New Yorkers ages 10 and up. IDNYC applicants' information is confidential. Immigration status does not matter. Learn more about the many benefits, services, and discounts available to IDNYC cardholders or call 311 and say "IDNYC" for more information and to make an appointment to enroll.

All New Yorkers can apply for a New York State driver license. Learn more about obtaining a NY State 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. Start your application online. Learn more about the New York State Dream Act visit.

All New Yorkers may sign up for We Speak NYC classes, the City's free English language learning program that provides instruction focused on conversation through community classes and resources including videos, online practice activities, and print instructional materials. Through the program, English learners can learn to better advocate for their families, communities, and themselves. Intermediate English language learners can visit nyc.gov/WeSpeakNYC to sign up for classes and use our free English language learning resources online.

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.

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.