DACA Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Do you know what DACA stands for? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you. Read on to discover the meaning of DACA, how it’s used, and more.

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Whether through the news, on social media, or in passing, you’ve likely heard someone say “DACA” before, but what does it mean? 

In this post, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about DACA, including what the acronym stands for and why it’s important.  

What Does DACA Stand For?

An immigration policy that protects hundreds of young immigrants known as Dreamers (often spelled “DREAMer”) who entered the United States unlawfully as children, DACA is an acronym that stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was established by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. 

Despite what some people may think, DACA doesn’t grant official legal status or a pathway to citizenship. The program does, however, allow Dreamers to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and work permit.

When Was DACA Established?

Created by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in 2012, DACA was established by the Obama Administration in response to the failure of the “DREAM Act,” which would have provided a path to citizenship for certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was officially announced by former President Barack Obama on June 15. This date that was thoughtfully chosen as the 30th anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, a Supreme Court decision barring public schools from charging undocumented immigrant children tuition.

On August 15th, 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — an agency of the Department of Homeland Security — began accepting applications for the program. By June 2016, a whopping 844,931 initial applications for DACA was received. 

DACA vs. Trump

In 2017, the Trump administration stated that it would end DACA, which former President Trump believed to be an unlawful program. However, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Trump’s effort to end the policy, ruling that the DACA program will remain in place for the foreseeable future.  

What Are the Requirements for Participation in DACA?

DACA offers employment authorization and a two-year deferment from deportation for those who qualify. It is intended for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were minors. 

The requirements for participating in DACA are as follows:

  • Under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the United States while under the age of 16
  • Resided in the United States continuously from June 15, 2007, to the present.
  • Entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful status prior to June 15, 2012
  • Present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at time of application for program approval
  • In school currently, graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or honorably discharged from the armed forces or Coast Guard.
  • Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind
  • Does not pose a threat to national security or public safety. 

Applicants will be required to provide substantial documentary evidence of the criteria listed above. In addition, every person who applies must complete and pass a biographic and biometric background check. 

In short, new applications for the program can be quite tedious. DACA renewals, on the other hand, are often much simpler. 

Who Are Dreamers?

“Dreamer” is an affirmative word for undocumented immigrants in the United States. 

In other words, Dreamers are individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children and didn’t have lawful immigration status. They’re pursuing the great American dream and can be found in every region of the nation, coming from all parts of the world, including South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. 

Dreamers are students who:

  • Grew up attending school in the United States
  • Are in the United States without permanent legal status
  • Many times discover that they don’t have lawful immigration status when they begin the process of applying for college

To support your Dreamer buddies, stay informed by keeping up-to-date on news regarding immigration law. Never ask anyone to disclose their immigration status and avoid asking someone where they originally came from, as it may force them to disclose sensitive information. 

In addition, don’t assume that someone is or isn’t a United States citizen based on their appearance, name, accent, etc. Be polite, never assume, and if a friend discloses their personal information with you, don’t share that information with others. 

Remember the golden rule: always treat others how you want to be treated. 


So, what does DACA mean, you ask?

DACA is an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It refers to a program that allows for certain undocumented Americans to have their deportations delayed and obtain a temporary work permit. DACA recipients are given a driver’s license, work permit, and social security number. 

Whether from Honduras, Slovakia, England, or Mexico — people are people and deserve to be treated as such. Join the fight for dignity and fair treatment of immigrants in the United States and support the DACA program today!    


  1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) | Immigration Equality
  2. DACA and the DREAM Act – A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States | HUSL Library at Howard University School of Law
  3. DACA and the DREAM Act – Civil Rights in the United States, A Brief History | Georgetown Law Library