U.S. President Joe Biden issued a presidential action on his first day in office yesterday aimed at strengthening Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era policy allowing people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to live, study and work in the country.
The policy known as DACA was instated via presidential memorandum and survived the Trump administration due to several court challenges by different states, individuals and the University of California. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually struck down the Trump administration's attempt to discontinue DACA in 2020. While the ruling was never final, the Trump administration did not attempt a second court challenge between the June ruling and the end of its term.
DACA is designed to give those who came to the U.S. illegally while under the age of 16 a chance at remaining even thought it doesn't offer a path to citizenship. Grantees have to fulfill certain criteria, like being enrolled in high school or having a high school degree or GED equivalent, and not having a serious criminal conviction.
Data published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that as of Q2 2020, more than 900,000 people have been permitted to stay in the U.S. under the program since it was created in 2012. More than three-quarters of all DACA recipients came from Mexico (77 percent of approved initial applications). The state with the most approved applications - in total and relative numbers - was California with 257,000 initial applications or around 6,500 per million inhabitants. In relation to population size, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico have the next biggest populations of DACA recipients.