By Hannah Jones • Intern • 

DACA recipients fear losing its benefits

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john fritter

I'm sure this is a stupid question but why would you not take the steps to become a legal citizen while being under the protective status of the DACA program?


There currently exists no process for Dreamers to become legal citizens.


Even if you are married to a Citizen like he is, there are many requisites and barriers that exist that make this a daunting task.


not the least of which is the time it takes.....I know people that have been in the process for more than 10 years....

john fritter

I guess this is where I get confused. So if you are in the DACA program you can not go thru the process to become a citizen? My only experience with the process is second hand. I have a very close friend that is a local Christmas tree farmer. He made his main/full time guys go thru the system. He and his wife helped wherever they could it took about 3 years to complete the process. One of the guys(not comfortable using other folks names) is like family, he goes hunting with us attends family events etc. Talking with him I get a totally different perception vs what I read in the news. I guess in the end I am just trying to understand.


The DACA program, as currently constituted, provides no path to legal status of any kind, let alone citizenship. It simply gives you a pass from deportation as long as you avoid getting into legal trouble, continue to meet other requirements, and renew every two years at a cost of $500 each time.


john fritter

Thank you for the explanation Steve. So I now understand the DACA program itself doesn't have a path to legal status. But does it put people in a position that does not allow them to seek legal status? That's what I meant to ask.

Sally G

Thanks, John, for the questions, because it does get very confusing! Maybe this is helpful: one wouldn't apply for DACA if they qualified to apply for a green card and then citizenship. Young people on DACA do not meet the requirements to apply for a green card and then citizenship, and being on DACA doesn't change that possibility.

To be on a pathway to citizenship, you have to have a CLOSE family member who is a citizen (or has a green card) sponsor you. If it's a spouse, it'll take 2-5 years. If it's a brother or sister that sponsors, they have to be a citizen, and if you're from Mexico/Philipines/Central America (due to country quotas), it now takes 23 years.

So there are many folks that have no option to apply for citizenship, and thus DACA is better than nothing. Many young people on DACA have parents in the U.S. who are also undocumented, so they are not eligible to sponsor them. (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins cannot be the sponsors.)

There are many people who have green cards (legal permanent resident) and have not taken the next step toward citizenship (usually because of cost or of fear of not passing the language or history/civics test.) I wonder if the tree farm workers that you mentioned may have been in this situation and needed some extra encouragement.

There was also a generation of undocumented immigrants (mostly men) who were given a pathway to citizenship through Reagan's amnesty in 1986. Most of these immigrants went on to get their citizenship -- and when their spouses came to join them, they were able to acquire citizenship. Any of their children who were over 18 years old could be sponsored but were in that 20 year wait. Often they joined their families as undocumented because they didn't want to wait 20 years. These older children now have their own kids who are a mixture of undocumented (born in Mexico) and citizens (born in U.S.)

Sorry for the long explanation, but hope it's helpful.


I do hope that, in the next six months, congress gives illegal aliens who were brought here as children a definite path forward to citizenship.


While a path to citizenship would be nice, from my experience, there are many people ( both immigrants and employers) that would be served by having a viable guest worker program. Having a process to verify workers (e-verify doesn't work very well but is the right approach)allows the US to control immigration #s and gives the workers status to live in the open. Not every worker wants or needs to be a citizen.


If you are a married to a Us citizen there is a way to get legalized. Only if don't have a clean criminal record it may be harder or just not possible.


All you have to do is obey the law and you will have no fear of losing your "DACA" benefits. It's terrible that your parents put you in this horrible situation of being a law breaker from the time you were a child. It was wrong of them and not your fault. But the fact remains, you have to obey the law. It's what we do in the USA.

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