Imagine that at age 3, a child from outside of the United States is brought in to the U.S. His or her family made the decision to enter the country, and they made it unabated. They now live in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.
The years pass, and that 3-year-old child is now an 18-year-old. For all intents and purposes, that 18-year-old is an American. He or she won't remember much, if anything at all, about their country of origin. They have grown up in the U.S. and only know America as their home. And yet, until recently, a person like this would have been subjected to harsh punishment under U.S. immigration law.
But that's where DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, comes in. DACA allows people under these circumstances to remain in the United States and avoid prosecution for any immigration violations. In order to qualify for DACA, an individual must:
- Be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Have entered the U.S. before the age of 16
- Have resided in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007
- Be in school, have a degree or GED, or have been honorably discharged from one of the U.S. military branches
- Not have a criminal history or be considered a threat
There can be other guidelines that must be met, or there could be complications that arise while applying for DACA. So anyone who is trying to obtain deferred action should consult with an attorney to ensure their application is handled properly.
Source: FindLaw, "What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?," Accessed Oct. 13, 2014