President's Blog: Progress on DACA, and the fight continues

Sept. 1, 2022

by Christopher Eisgruber

The Biden Administration last week took an important step to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Congress must now act to provide permanent protection for Dreamers, including those who are Princeton students and alumni.  

The Department of Homeland Security’s rule-making process considered over 16,000 comments, among them a joint letter from Princeton and Microsoft.  Our letter made the case for codifying the program.  It also encouraged the administration to update and expand DACA’s eligibility requirements so that more Dreamers can benefit from the program.

As I have argued many times over the past several years, DACA is a wise and humane policy that allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to live, learn, and work here without fear of deportation.  It has allowed hundreds of thousands of talented and motivated students to pursue education, develop skills, and make positive contributions to their communities and country.  

Unfortunately, DACA has confronted multiple attacks over the past ten years.  Princeton is proud of our lead role in a successful lawsuit to stop the previous administration from arbitrarily ending the program.  But a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit presents another round of challenges to the program’s legality.

This legal turmoil leaves DACA recipients in limbo and prevents the Department of Homeland Security from processing new applications.  

I commend and thank the Biden Administration for taking the important step of codifying DACA in regulation, though I am disappointed that the final rule does not update or expand the program’s eligibility criteria.[1]  As Princeton and Microsoft noted in our November comments, these outdated requirements will prevent many deserving individuals from availing themselves of DACA’s protections in each coming year.

Our fight must continue.  Dreamers deserve certainty that they can remain in the United States, which is their home.  We owe them the reassurance that their commitment to this country is valued and welcome.  I once again call on Congress to pass legislation that will provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship for the full population of Dreamers.

[1] Under the new rule, as under the previous policy, DACA recipients must have come to the United States before their sixteenth birthday; resided here continuously since June 15, 2007; and been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.