DACA, explained

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Protection from deportation and the chance to work have been life-changing for DACA recipients. But if Congress and the White House can’t agree on a bill to protect them within a six-month timeframe, those protections will disappear.

The most consequential decision President Donald Trump made on immigration in his first year in office wasn’t about the wall, or who’s going to pay for it, or anything else he talked about incessantly on the campaign trail.

It was his decision to announce, on September 5, that his administration would be winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — a program he didn’t mention outright, that many people didn’t know about and even fewer understood.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has protected nearly 800,000 young adult unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally since 2012. The immigrants protected through DACA grew up in the US; people might not assume they are unauthorized immigrants, and they might not have even known it themselves until they were teenagers. The program was supposed to give them a chance to build a life here.

Now, DACA is on the chopping block. Trump, under pressure to make a decision about its future before September 5 (the day a group of Republican state officials were set to sue over its constitutionality), has decided that no one new will be protected under the program — and that those currently covered will start to lose their protection and work permits on March 6, 2018.

The prospect of DACA’s demise is throwing the program into sharp relief: calling attention to the “DREAMers” who’ve been able to benefit from it, and the ways in which their lives have been changed over the past five years.

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