Editor's note: While several Republicans have called President Obama's immigration overhaul plan unconstitutional, it's unclear how a court challenge to stop executive changes would fare, The Associated Press reports. A lawsuit challenging the administration's 2012 program was dismissed on technical grounds. - Stephanie
Sen. John McCain: "Today's announcement by President Obama is a politically-motivated power grab that does nothing to further the debate but instead adds additional confusion and uncertainty to our broken immigration system." - statement via @NBCNews
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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy ordered by President Obama as an executive action that allows certain undocumented immigrants to the United States who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. This policy was created after acknowledgment that the undocumented students population was rapidly increasing; approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools on a yearly basis. This policy has been seen as a way to remove immigration enforcement attention from "low priority" individuals who act as good citizens. DACA confers non-immigrant legal status but does not provide a path to citizenship. It was started by the Obama administration in June 2012. This policy now faces threats by president-elect Donald Trump.
At the program's start, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people might be eligible. As of June 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted DACA status to about 581,000 people and denied to about 24,000. Between 2014 and 2015 USCIS has renewed 443,103 DACA requests
In November 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced changes to DACA which would expand it to include undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 2010, eliminate the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthen the renewable deferral period to two years. The Pew Research Center estimated that this would increase the number of eligible people by about 330,000.
Due to a federal court order, USCIS did not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18, 2016 as originally planned. The court's temporary injunction, issued February 16, does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the guidelines established in 2012.