Is there a DACA age limit?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been all over the news lately. And between its repeal and the drafting of potential replacements, it’s important to know what’s happening with this important immigration legislation. But we still have some questions. For instance, is there a DACA age limit?

Age does prevent some people from applying to DACA. On January 15th, Jorge Garcia was deported to Mexico after arriving in the United States as a child and residing in Lincoln Park, Michigan for 30 years. Since Garcia was brought into the country as a 10-year-old, he would normally have qualified for DACA. But the 39-year-old was born too early to meet the DACA age limit.

When the program was put in place under the Obama administration, undocumented immigrants must have been born after June 15th, 1981 to qualify. However, according to the American Immigration Council, those who initially qualified for the program did not age out of DACA. Recipients could continue to reapply for DACA indefinitely to maintain their legal status. In fact, as of August 2017, most DACA recipients were adults in their 20s or 30s.

Of course, the number of people who can apply or reapply for the program has decreased since the Trump administration ended DACA in September. A California judge temporarily blocked the DACA repeal on January 10th, allowing prior recipients to reapply for protection as of January 13th. But even under this temporary protection, the DACA program can’t accept new applicants.

Congress has until March 5th to draft a DACA replacement, and while a bipartisan agreement was reached on January 11th, President Donald Trump rejected it. Trump justified his rejection of the bill by tweeting that it was “a big step backwards” and blaming it on the Democrats.

For now, members of Congress are still working on a DACA replacement. Vox reported that the latest deal could provide coverage for children younger than 15 who couldn’t apply for DACA before. However, the newest bill also reportedly prevents undocumented parents from seeking green cards through their children.

Even though DACA doesn’t protect people who don’t meet the age limit, it’s still a program that benefits thousands. We hope that Congress is able to pass a DACA replacement soon and that the new legislation will expand on the old program to make it better.