My youngest siblings are graduating from high school this week. I’ve been thinking about their futures – where they’ll go to college and the adventures they’ll have as they transition into adulthood. They have so many options, and I am excited to see where their paths lead.
Two years ago, not all high school graduates had open opportunities. If they were undocumented, they may not have been allowed to attend college, and if they were, they were going to pay the much higher out-of-state tuition rates. In some states, obtaining a driver’s license – that symbol of independence – was out of the question.
On June 15, 2012, DACA changed this bleak outlook for many young undocumented immigrants. Although DACA is a temporary solution, it allowed so many previously closed doors to open for young immigrants. Graduation was once again a time of hope and rising expectations – not just for U.S. citizens, but for nearly all high school graduates.
As you know, DACA is granted for two years at a time. The earliest DACA cases were approved in September 2012, meaning that the time for renewal is fast approaching. USCIS recommends reapplying for DACA four months before your current DACA expires, but USCIS is releasing a new I-821D that they want all applicants for renewals to use.
The new form should be released later this month. As soon as the form is available and you are within four months of your DACA expiring, you should file your renewal request. By doing so, you’ll limit the chances that there are gaps in your work card, which can impact your ability to go to school, to drive, and of course, to work.
DACA is good for now and it is so much better than what we had before, which was nothing. My hope is, though, that we don’t have to talk about DACA renewals in the next two years because we’ll have comprehensive immigration reform and our DACA recipients will be on a different path – one that leads to permanent lawful status in the United States.