by Sue Weishar, Ph.D.
Late in his first term President Barack Obama took action to prevent the deportation of young immigrants who had entered the U.S. as children persons often referred to as “Dreamers.” On June 15, 2012, the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that assured undocumented immigrant children the right to attend public schools in the United States (Plyor v. Doe), he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. DACA allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. under the age of 16 and have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action (temporary relief) from deportation and eligibility for a work permit if they pass a background check and meet certain educational requirements.
Since the election of Donald Trump the future of the approximately 750,000 Dreamers who received DACA has become highly uncertain. On the campaign trail Trump insisted that anyone in the U.S. without permission should be deported; however, during a post-election interview in November, 2016, he said that his administration would focus on deporting immigrants with criminal records. The executive order President Trump signed in January then proceeded to put all undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation, but on April 21 he told Dreamers to “rest easy” because they were not the targets of his ramped-up immigration enforcement efforts. On June 16 a Department of Homeland Security official stated that no final determination has been about the DACA program. The chart below, drawn from Migration Policy Institute data, lists the number of DACA applications received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of September, 2016, per Gulf South state, as well as the estimated number of undocumented immigrants living in those states.