It is time to clear-up misconceptions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It is not true that individuals must be under 31 to be eligible for DACA. Any individual born after June 15, 1981 is within-and shall remain within-DACA’s age requirements. Only individuals who were 31 years old or older on June 15, 2012 are ineligible for DACA.
The age requirements apply to initial applications as well as renewals. One of the only things we do know about renewals is that no one will age out. Thus, there currently are individuals in their early thirties who are eligible for DACA, and assuming the program continues on, over time, greater numbers of DACA recipients will be over 31. However, like a great deal of information in the immigration law arena, some articles and mistakenly claim that people over 30 or 31 don’t qualify-this gets the age ceiling wrong and also implies that individuals can age out of eligibility.
Only individuals who were 31 years old or older on June 15, 2012 are ineligible for DACA. It is estimated that there are 1.8 million individuals who may be or may become eligible for DACA. That figure includes individuals who are immediately eligible for the program as well as individuals who are too young (absent certain prior contact with immigration officials, an individual must be 15 to apply) and individuals who would need to enroll in a qualifying adult education program in order to qualify. So far, approximately 570,000 people have made DACA Applications.
Inaccurate information such as this (about age) for DACA eligibility is troubling because the individuals who are actually applying for DACA tend to be on the lower end of the age range. In August, the Brookings Institution released a report based on FOIA-obtained data for applications filed through March of this year. The report revealed that 36 percent of applicants were between the ages of 15-18, 40 percent were between the ages of 19-23, and just 24 percent were 24 and over. The confusion regarding older DACA candidates is understandable. DACA and the DREAM Act often are confused.
DACA and the Dream Act are different animals. The DREAM Act is closely tied to classrooms, caps and gowns and youth. As such, the mistaken conclusion that DACA is not for some students because they don’t think of themselves as DREAMers. For this humanitarian program to embrace as many people as possible, it is critical that accurate information about eligibility requirements be relayed at every step.
When potential DACA-ians pick-up the newspaper, they should read that they may qualify for DACA if they were born after June 15, 1981. It should also be clear that drop-outs can meet DACA’s education requirement if they re-enroll in a qualifying GED, ESL, literacy or career training program. For now, DACA is here to stay and eligible individuals should have access to accurate information to learn if the program is right for them.
For more information about DACA or assistance with a DACA Application, please feel free to contact any of the Immigration Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our offices at 201-670-0006 (x100).