Jeh Johnson renews non-deportation policies for over 500,000 ‘dreamers’

More than half a million individuals who have been approved for enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be allowed to renew their standing in the program for two years, the Obama administration announced Thursday. The announcement came from Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who also announced that DACA will continue to accept applications from qualifying individuals who have not yet enrolled in the program.

The program was first introduced in August of 2012 and has since granted temporary permission to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation to more than 560,000 individuals, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s website. Beneficiaries of the program have come to be colloquially referred to as ‘dreamers’ in reference of their search for a better life. Johnson echoed his rationale for the renewal by explaining the circumstances surrounding these individuals’ decisions to enter the country.

“Despite the acrimony and partisanship that now exists in Washington, almost all of us agree that a child who first crossed our border illegally with a parent, or in search of a parent or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws, and should be treated differently than adult lawbreakers,” Johnson said in a statement.

The program has had exceptionally high acceptance rates, taking in more than 96 percent of individuals who have applied for amnesty so far. Initially, the program required applicants to have entered the country before the age of 16, to have been under the age of 30 by June 15, 2012, and to have some demonstrable level of educational attainment, such as enrollment in school or a GED. Approved individuals will be able to apply for renewal if they have not departed the United States after August 15, 2012, have remained in the U.S. since their most recent approved DACA request, and have no felony or severe misdemeanor charges on their records.