DACA stands for "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." DACA was established by an executive action of President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, in response to repeated Congressional failures to pass any version of the federal Development, Relief, and Education for A***n Minors (aka the DREAM Act). The President announced that his administration would no longer seek to prosecute undocumented students who otherwise met the criteria established in prior versions of the DREAM Act.
DACA therefore occupies a legal gray area, being neither a law nor a regulation, but an exercise of "prosecutorial discretion."
- The initial details of DACA were outlined in a memorandum issued June 15, 2012, by the secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano (PDF).
- A second memo from Homeland Security issued November 20, 2014 (PDF) expanded the DACA provisions and established DAPA, or "Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents."
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced a plan to end DACA protections. The plan was deferred for 6 months to allow Congress to pass some version of the DREAM Act, which it again failed to do. Multiple lawsuits and court orders prevented DACA from being rescinded, most importantly the Supreme Court decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, issued June 19, 2020.
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden reinstated DACA by executive order.
Text courtesy: CSU, San Bernardino, Pfau Library