Despite calling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) an “unconstitutional executive amnesty” during his campaign, new approvals to the program continue under President Trump. Additionally, in the first three months of 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) statistics show 17,000 new DACA applicant approvals. Additionally, the agency renewed 107,000 work permits for current DACA immigrants with expiring permissions.
“The new figures make clear that the deferred-action program for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children– often known as “dreamers”– has continued at a robust pace under Trump,” according to The Washington Post. Concern among immigration advocates had been the administration would target work permit holders for deportation, the publication reports.
While some of his conservative supporters see the continued approvals and extensions as a failure to follow through on a significant campaign pledge, President Trump touts his tough border and enforcement approach as responsible for a significant drop in the number of undocumented people coming into the country.
Administration enforcement guidelines broaden the pool of people identified for removal on a priority basis.
“While we still welcome legal immigrants to the tune of 1 million a year,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in early June, “we are no longer a friendly environment for illegal border crossers.”
The DACA program, instituted under executive order by President Obama in 2012, is popular among Hispanic and Asian immigrants. Thus far, more than 750,000 immigrants have participated.
The DACA program is open to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 16, giving them a chance to stay in the country to study or work when certain conditions are met, including the lack of a serious criminal conviction. Approved DACA applicants receive a work permit and are protected from deportation for a period of two years, after which the status can be renewed.