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Legal Status for Dreamers

is protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — but the Trump administration tried to end it



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Why It Matters

  • Since 2012, DACA gave deportation protections and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children (known as “Dreamers”) and who met other requirements. 

  • As DACA was bringing these young people out of the shadows to start school, jobs and families, the Trump-Pence administration attempted to end it  — putting 700,000 immigrant youth at risk of deportation. 

  • The Supreme Court found the Trump administration’s efforts to end DACA unlawful in June 2020. But in the meantime, the administration made it harder for DACA recipients and many young immigrants to access health care, putting their health in jeopardy. 

Key Players

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Mike Pence

Vice President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. Attorney General (DOJ)

Resigned: 11-07-2018
William Barr

U.S. Attorney General (DOJ)

Nominated by Trump: 1-3-2019
Nikki Haley

Former Ambassador to the United Nations

Resigned: 10-9-2018

How We Got Here & Where We're Headed


DACA UPDATE: Trump pledged to continue trying to dismantle DACA, and his allies continued those efforts until the very end of Trump’s term

  • 12-7-2020
    DACA starts accepting new applications and is fully reinstated to what it was before the Trump administration tried to end the program in 2017

  • 12-4-2020
    A federal judge orders the Trump administration to fully restore DACA and open the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017

  • 12-2-2020
    A federal appeals court rules against the Trump-Pence administration’s public charge rule and safeguards immigrants’ access to public benefits in part of the country; however, other public charge lawsuits are playing out

  • 9-29-2020
    The Office of Refugee Resettlement stops its policy of blocking, interfering with, and nonconsensually communicating about young immigrant’s access to abortion care

  • 9-14-2020
    Immigrants being held in a Georgia detention center file a whistleblower complaint that alleges high rates of hysterectomies performed on unwilling detained immigrants

  • 6-18-2020
    The U.S. Supreme Court rules to strike down the administration’s efforts to dismantle DACA, protecting at least 700,000 young immigrants who have grown up in the United States from deportation

  • 2-24-2020
    Public charge rule goes into effect nationwide

  • 1-27-2020
    Supreme Court rules that the administration can use its new “public charge” standard while lawsuits against it go forward

View more +
  • 9-1-2019
    Supreme Court temporarily permits third-country rule, which denies most asylum claims at the Southern border

  • 8-21-2019
    Trump administration announced a final "family detention" rule that would allow it to detain children indefinitely; the rule is enjoined the next month

  • 8-12-2019
    Trump administration issues final “public charge” rule designed to stop immigrants from accessing public benefits to which they are legally entitled

  • 7-16-2019
    Rule issued that makes immigrants ineligible for U.S. asylum if they passed through Mexico — denying asylum to nearly all South American immigrants

  • 11-9-2018
    Trump announces a policy to severely restrict asylum for immigrants

  • 10-10-2018
    Trump administration proposes a “public charge” rule to make it more difficult for immigrants with low incomes and their families to enter the U.S. or adjust their status

  • 9-7-2018
    Trump administration proposes a family detention rule to let U.S. imprison immigrant children indefinitely

  • 6-11-2018
    Former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, says immigrants fleeing domestic violence don’t qualify for asylum

  • 4-6-2018
    U.S. sharply increases separation of immigrant families at the border

  • 3-27-2018
    Trump administration says it plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census; the addition is later blocked by the courts

  • 12-18-2017
    Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd head says he interfered with undocumented women’s abortion access

  • 12-14-2017
    Trump administration starts detaining pregnant immigrants during legal proceedings

  • 10-10-2017
    ACLU sues the Office of Refugee Resettlement for blocking a detained, undocumented 17-year-old’s access to abortion


  • 9-5-2017
    The Trump administration announces it’s ending DACA





“DACA changed my life. I was able to get a license, get a [job] and apply for college... Now that it has been taken away, I do not know what my future and that of so many members of my community holds.”

What is DACA?

DACA protects undocumented immigrants who emigrated as children from getting deported. Nine in 10 Americans believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the United States. And yet, the Trump-Pence administration continually tried to end DACA as part of its larger crackdown on immigration. 

The administration's crackdown on immigration put young people’s lives in limbo and caused some to live under constant threat. That, in turn, caused far-reaching anxiety — which can hurt whole families’ health and wellbeing.

Background on DACA

Young People Lived in Fear

While recipients awaited the Supreme Court ruling, they remained at risk of permanently losing their protections.

Calling Latin American Nations “Shithole Countries”

In a congressional DACA meeting in January 2018, Trump said the U.S. should welcome immigrants from Norway — whose citizens are mostly white — instead of "shithole countries" like Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

Hip Latina
DACA Recipients Contribute to Society

DACA contributes to the economy: 97% of 16- to 35-year-old recipients work or are in school, and 8% of 25- to 35-year-old recipients started their own business.

Center for American Progress
What is the Dream Act, and Why Was the Administration Trying to Block It?

The administration has repeatedly blocked attempts to pass legislation called the Dream Act because it would allow a pathway to citizenship without harsh border security or immigration enforcement provisions. The Dream Act is where the term “Dreamers” comes from. 

New York Magazine
Existing Restrictions on DACA

Most states don’t allow DACA recipients to access public health benefits like Medicaid, so their only insurance option is often employer-sponsored — which depends on DACA work permits.

Latino USA
Will DACA End or Continue? Supreme Court Says It Will Continue — For Now.

The U.S Supreme Court’s June 2020 decision to strike down the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to dismantle DACA means that at least 700,000 young immigrants who grew up in the United States are protected from deportation for the time being. 


Related Issues

Detention of Pregnant Immigrants

Public Benefits for Immigrants

2020 Census

Separating Immigrant Families


Immigrant Access to Abortion

Pregnant Travelers

The Muslim Ban