An uncertain future for temporary policies protecting undocumented immigrants and families
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that was created via executive action in 2012 with the aim to protect young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. DACA temporarily protects these young immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” from deportation and authorizes them to work in the U.S..
However, without a clear pathway to citizenship, many Dreamers are fearful they could become separated from their families if DACA is ever rescinded. DACA protects roughly 590,000 immigrant youth, most of whom have been protected under this policy for almost a decade and have built communities, families and careers in the U.S.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is another protective status that is offered to those whose countries of origin are experiencing dangerous or extraordinary conditions — ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster — that may prevent a safe return.
Like Dreamers, TPS beneficiaries are protected from deportation and can obtain work and travel authorization, but the benefit is temporary and does not provide a pathway to a more permanent immigration status in the U.S. TPS is a designation given to a country, so if a country’s designation expires, an individual’s TPS also expires, leading to families being separated or deported.
As courts continue to litigate, vulnerable groups remain at risk
In the 117th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6). Unfortunately, companion legislation failed to pass the Senate. As courts continue to litigate the future of DACA and the TPS designation of many countries are set to expire, the lack of permanent protection puts these vulnerable groups at risk.
UNICEF believes families belong together. Children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers. Allowing families to be torn apart is not in our nation’s best interest and runs counter to our American values. Advancing legislation is the only way to protect these young people and preserve their families.