Thousands of Tennesseans who were brought to America as children are currently renewing documents that let them stay in the country legally.
Over 5,000 Tennesseans have been accepted into Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals. It allows them to get work permits, driver’s licenses, and even Social Security numbers. The catch — it all expires after two years.
Jonny Garcia was brought by his family from Mexico when he was five. He filled out a DACA application as soon as he could, and is now up for renewal. The program has given him opportunities like attending Western Kentucky University and landing health care internships. But the program could eventually be discontinued—either by a renewal issue or by problems within the federal government.
“It can be taken away. And if that were the case, then you do go back to step one. I guess that’s the fear that I have, that I graduate college and have a degree, but who’s gonna hire me?”
Reapplying is simpler than the original application process, which required extensive documentation. Unless they left the country or committed a crime, most applicants will probably be re-accepted once they pay the $465 fee. But DACA is still just an executive order—leaving some immigrants anxious for the future of the program.
DACA Eligibility Requirements
- Younger than 31 years old on June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before their 16th birthday
- Be at least 15 years old (unless in removal proceedings)
- Have been in the United States since June 15, 2007
- Were in the United States on June 15, 2012 with an unlawful status
- Be present in the United States while requesting DACA
- Be enrolled in or have completed a GED program or high school, or be an honorably discharged veteran
- Not have a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors
- Pay the $465 fee and have biometrics done
DACA Renewal Requirements
- All of the original requirements must be met
- The applicant can not have left the United States without advanced parole after August 12, 2012.
- New criminal charges like misdemeanor can cause complications
- The $465 fee must be paid a second time, and resubmit fingerprints
Not all materials (such as mortgage receipts, passports, or bank transactions to prove residency) must be resubmitted, which can streamline the renewal process.
All forms to apply for and renew DACA are available for free on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, but having a lawyer help fill them out can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,500.