What Happens to Your Employees Under DACA?

Julie Shenkman
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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a program formed by President Obama in 2012. Through this program, individuals who arrived in the United States as minors illegally, either by themselves or with families searching for better opportunities, are protected from immediate deportation. Under the DACA program, they can receive a deferment for up to two years. In 2017, President Trump vowed to end the DACA program. What does this mean for active employees?

What Is DACA?

The DACA program includes individuals who arrived in the United States without the proper legal documents before their 16th birthday. They must have lived in the country continuously from June 2007 to the present, and they must have been under the age of 21 on June 15, 2012. The individual must have never been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors. There is an exception to this, as certain misdemeanors only require one offense for deportation, such as a single DUI.

The individual must have earned a high school diploma or GED or have an honorable military discharge. There are other criteria that qualify an individual for the DACA program, but these are determined on a case-by-case basis. Those who qualify for the DACA program receive a temporary employment authorization document, or EAD card, which allows them to work in the United States.

What Happens to Individuals and Businesses?

If the DACA program ends, thousands of workers would lose their jobs, as their temporary work documents would no longer be active and would be ineligible for renewal. This alone can wreak havoc on families and businesses. Families would lose their incomes, and businesses would lose many valuable workers. Employers that don't want to lose valuable workers would have their hands tied, as helping workers affected by Trump's decision to end the DACA program might lead to trouble with the federal government.

Ending DACA greatly impacts businesses, as employers are likely to face many operational risks. Many global businesses have expressed their opposition to ending DACA. CEO and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, called the decision to end the program both "wrong" and "cruel." Zuckerberg, along with other global business owners, called on members of Congress to pass legislation that helps DACA members earn legal citizenship, and as of 2017, the federal government is working on a solution to this issue. DACA isn't the only program implemented by President Obama that President Trump plans to stop. There are quite a few, but replacing the Affordable Care Act is one of Trump's main goals.

As of 2017, nearly 800,000 individuals fall under the DACA program umbrella. Many are gainfully employed taxpayers, homeowners and business owners who created a brand new life for their families in the United States. For many of these individuals, being deported means leaving behind the spouses, children and extended family members they support. Many government leaders have signed a letter asking Trump to reconsider his decision to end the DACA program with no success.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore at Flickr.com


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