Smart enforcement priorities promote safety and security
DACA’s rigorous security requirements and registration process allowed federal law enforcement to de-prioritize Dreamers confidently. The government knew precisely who they were, where they lived, and their backgrounds. In order to receive DACA, applicants had to file a formal government request which included biometric (fingerprints) and biographic (names, addresses, phone numbers) information, as well as a $495 filing fee. In reviewing their filing, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ran thorough background checks against a variety of lists, including FBI and national gang databases.
DACA was originally implemented to ensure that law enforcement focused limited resources were focused on individuals with a violent criminal history or who represented national security concerns, not low-priority cases like Dreamers going to school and working. DACA recipients may be generally protected from the President’s new enforcement measures; however, all other undocumented immigrants have been prioritized for removal. That means valuable enforcement dollars and resources are spent targeting long-standing hard working community members, including Dreamers who were unable to enroll in DACA before AG Sessions ended it, rather than focusing efforts on real threats.
A legislative pathway to citizenship like the Dream Act would extend these benefits even further by establishing a similar process for the full Dreamer population, and would ensure they were protected from future changes in prioritization.