The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, enacted by former President Barack Obama, represents a significant stage of evolution within the United States' immigration policy. The undocumented immigrants served by the program embody the ideals that America built itself upon: Those who came here for a better life, free from persecution. These ideals, however, have not protected these individuals from the growing pains of American democracy.
Through in-depth research, Stacker developed a timeline of events that have shaped the enduring debate of where DACA—and the DREAM Act preceding it—fit within the legal definition of "American." Bipartisanship will prove to be the driving mechanism for moving beyond debates about the merits of amnesty, the necessity of deportation for certain populations and the lengths America intends to go in order to secure its borders.
Date: November 6, 1986
The IRCA provides amnesty and legal permanent residence to the nearly 2.7 million undocumented people who entered the United States before 1982. The bill is an effort to eliminate the illegal immigration spurred by the Bracero Program and aims to penalize employers that knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Date: August 1, 2001
By the turn of the century, the United States holds roughly 11 million undocumented people within its borders. The Dream Act focuses on undocumented children in the country, and aims to provide them with a path to citizenship. The proposal is the first of many failed attempts to establish immigration reform.
Date: June 15, 2012
After a decade of unsuccessful attempts by Congress to pass the DREAM Act, President Obama establishes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). The program targets about 800,000 young adults and grants Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano prosecutorial discretion. The measure pressures Congress to pass bipartisan immigration reform, though critics view Obama’s efforts as an unconstitutional abuse of executive power.
Date: November 20, 2014
The Deferred Action for Unauthorized Immigrant Parents (DAPA) program authorizes the ability to work and removes the risk of deportation for the 3.6 million undocumented parents of young U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. The combined expansion of DACA extends policy reform to affect five million people. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson officially issues the memorandum.
Date: February 16, 2015
The November 2014 memorandum ties up in the courts due to 25 state attorneys general, led by Texas, who sue the executive branch for exercising power beyond its jurisdiction. DAPA and the expanded DACA policies come to a halt, as immigration policy reform continues to be a politically driven issue.
Date: August 31, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump places immigration policy at the forefront of his campaign. Trump's immigration plan suggests the elimination of the Obama administration’s DACA and DAPA memorandums.
Date: November 10, 2016
Known for his tough stance on immigration practices, Kris Kobach’s appointment as immigration advisor sets the tone for the Trump’s administration's immigration policy reform.
Date: September 4, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions submits a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke concerning rescinding the process of DACA. Sessions claims the policy is unconstitutional, with “the same legal and constitutional defects that the courts recognized in DAPA.”
Date: September 5, 2017
Elaine Duke issues a memorandum rescinding the June 15, 2012 memo that established DACA, and sets forward a plan for phasing the program out over the next six months. The deadline set for DACA renewals to end is March 5, 2018.
Date: January 9, 2018
Judge William Alsup of San Francisco deems the Trump administration's phase-out plan to be overly expedient and flawed in approach. The ruling is concurrent with negotiations for a spending bill to begin on Capitol Hill.
Date: January 16, 2018
With bipartisan negotiations quickly souring, President Trump’s team requests to bypass the appellate court decision to maintain DACA provisions, and place the rescinding of the program on the Supreme Court docket.
Date: January 18, 2018
Bipartisan talks reach another standstill, as Republicans refuse to budge on the creation of the southern border wall and Democrats push for the fortification of the DACA program. Republicans add the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as a leverage tool against Democrats unwilling to make compromises on their immigration stances.
Date: January 19, 2018
The House approves a spending bill that isolates DACA recipients, but the Senate falters in following suit. The government effectively shuts down with a GOP majority and DACA as the linchpin in division amongst constituents.
After a weekend of government shutdown, the Democrats in the Senate move to a compromise that stalls their DACA platform in favor of keeping the process of negotiations alive. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) is hopeful that the restart will bear fruitful ends for the DACA issue, although some Democrats feel that renewing talks makes the party look weak on immigration.
Date: February 13, 2018
Brooklyn District Judge Nicholas Garaufis rules that the Trump administration maintains the right to move forward with rescinding the DACA initiative; however, flaws in the argument force the judge to rule against the president. All the while, the Trump administration awaits the ability to circumvent the ruling and bring its case before the Supreme Court.
Date: February 26, 2018
The Supreme Court’s decision ensures that the Trump Administration continues to deal with litigation in the lower courts, while DACA recipients receive hope that they may renew their benefits beyond the initial March 5, 2018 deadline.
Date: March 5, 2018
DACA recipients breathe a sigh of relief as the deadline for renewing program benefits passes without any elimination of benefits, providing normalcy for the pro-immigrant movement despite the disarray.
Date: April 1, 2018
President Trump tweets his frustration over the DACA debate. Democrats rebuff on securing his border wall in negotiations.
Date: April 24, 2018
Judge John Bates adds to the winding narrative of President Trump’s setbacks in the lower courts over the shallow nature of his administration's request for a shutdown of DACA.
Date: June 23, 2018
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen concurs with the September 5, 2017 memorandum issued by Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, and provides further reasoning for a DACA phase-out in her own memorandum. Secretary Nielsen is simultaneously under fire from multiple protest groups for her stance on President Trump’s family separation policy.
Date: July 17, 2018
The right-leaning think tank Center for Immigration Studies requests that information regarding criminal history and other personal data for DACA recipients be made public.