Written By: Katherine Del Rosario, Immigration Attorney at McEntee Law Group 

This week marks the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. At the time, I was working my first job as a Fellow with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), who organized the first massive DACA workshop at Navy Pier in Chicago. I arrived bright and early to a line of young people and their families that stretched down the entire pier. I snapped this quick photo before we welcomed the first applicants.



In June 2012, DACA offered a brand new opportunity to young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. These DREAMers were given temporary protection from deportation and a chance to pursue their education and careers, and participate more fully in their communities.

Read our previous article on DACA here. 

Background on DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established by the Obama administration on June 15, 2012. It provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to eligible young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Arriving in the U.S. before their 16th birthday.
  • Having continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
  • Being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
  • Being physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying for DACA.
  • Having no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
  • Being currently in school, having graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, having obtained a GED certificate, or being an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Not having been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise posing a threat to national security or public safety.


DACA’s impact has been undeniable. Over the past twelve years, DREAMers have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Through DACA, hundreds of thousands of young people have been able to find stability in their lives and open doors to higher education, homeownership, and higher earning. The impact is more than personal, with economic contributions felt in their communities and nationwide.


Despite DACA’s benefits, its future remains uncertain. The program has endured continued political and legal challenges since its creation which has left the security and well-being of its recipients and their families in limbo. So while this anniversary is a time to celebrate DREAMers, it’s also a call for lawmakers to finally pass a permanent solution that provides DREAMers with a clear path to citizenship. They deserve the opportunity to continue living, working, and reaching their full potential in the only country they know as home.


Are you a DREAMER who wants to speak to one of our experienced immigration attorneys? Click below.

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