The Basics of Executive Action (DACA & DAPA)

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced two programs to help an estimated 4.4 million undocumented people around the country. It is important to know exactly what the President announced, and how that will benefit our community here in Texas. Here are answers to some of your most common questions about Deferred Action, if you have additional questions please email us at dapa@raicestexas.org.

Deferred Action refers to the discretionary power of DHS to defer the deportation of someone. DHS has been using this authority for years, for individual cases where there has been support to defer deportation. The use of Deferred Action is not new to the Obama Administration; many presidents before him used the same policy. It is important to know that the granting of deferred action does not, directly, lead to the grant of any form of permanent legal status; deferred action just means that you are no longer a priority for deportation.

No. A grant of Deferred Action is not a permanent adjustment of your legal status. Deferred Action is normally granted for a set period of time, after which you can apply for renewal. In some states having Deferred Action allows for you to apply for a drivers license and even a SSN, however this still does not change your legal status.

In June of 2012, after pressure from community organizations, President Obama announced DACA. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We refer to this program as DACA 2012; the program essentially means that certain children, those who arrived to the United States prior to turning 16 years of age, would no longer be a priority for deportation. In addition to having arrived before the age of 16, in order to be eligible for DACA one must meet a few other criteria:

  • Have lived in the United States for at least 5 years, beginning in June of 2007;
  • Are currently in school , have graduated from high school or completed an accredited GED program (or are enrolled in a program);
  • -Does not have a felony, more than 3 misdemeanors, or any significant misdemeanor.

While there are other requirements, these are the most basic in order to qualify for DACA as announced in 2012.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced three key programs that will benefit an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. The President announced an expansion of the 2012 DACA, a new DAPA program for parents and new language relating to I-601 Waivers.

  • Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA): for parents of United States Citizen, or legal permanent resident children. Parents must have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010, and they must meet other requirements.
  • Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): for those brought to the United States before the age of 16, and who have attended school here in the United States. This expanded version of DACA removes the previous age-cap as well as well as only requiring proof of continuous presence from January 1, 2010. Expanded DACA would grant deferred action for a period of three-years, instead of the traditional two-year period.
  • New language for provisional waivers (I-601) for individuals with approved family petitions. These waivers would allow for individuals with approved family petitions to possibly qualify for waivers, in order to adjust their status.
It is estimated that a total of 593,000 individuals living in Texas are eligible for these programs.

The expanded DACA allows for young people who are over the age of 31 to now apply and be eligible for the program. In addition to removal of the age-cap this Expanded DACA also changes the date at which you would have had to have been in the United States in order to apply. With the previous DACA you would have had to have been in the U.S. on or before June 15, 2007, however with the DACA expansion that date has now been moved to January 1, 2010.

This expansion of DACA now allows for more young people to apply; it is estimated that nearly 34,000 young people in Texas will now be eligible for DACA with this expansion. The criteria for DACA are as follows:

  • Arrived in the U.S. when under 16 years of age;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States from January 1, 2010, to the present;
  • Physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, at the time of filing the application;
  • Did not have lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Currently enrolled in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, are enrolled in GED classes or are honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, 3 or more misdemeanors; and
  • Are at least 15 years old (may be younger if in removal proceedings).

Along with allowing for more young people to apply for DACA this new program also grants Deferred Action for a period of three-years, instead of the two-years that was previously granted. Every three-years you are expected to renew your DACA application.

DAPA stands for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, this program was announced in November of 2014. This program allows for certain parents, who meet the below criteria, to apply for and be granted Deferred Action. A grant of deferred action under DAPA means that, for a period of three years, you are no longer a priority for deportation. With a grant of DAPA you are also eligible to apply for work authorization in the U.S.

The initial criteria for DAPA is as follows:

  • Are the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child on November 20, 2014;
  • Child can be a minor or adult and single or married;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, to the present;
  • Physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014, and at the time of filing the application;
  • Did not have lawful status on November 20, 2014; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanor offenses.

While there are other requirements, these are the most basic in order to qualify for DAPA.


Yes. According to USCIS the filing fee for DAPA, as well as the new expanded DACA will be the same as the fee for the 2012 DACA. The filing fee for these programs has been set at $465; $380 for the application and $80 for the bio-metrics.

If you qualify for the 2012 DACA you can already apply. RAICES offers legal support for those filing for DACA. Please contact our DACA coordinator, Ilse Hernandez at 210-446-3817 to schedule your first appointment.

As a result of an injunction granted in February of this year both, DAPA and DACA expansion, applications are currently on hold. However we encourage you to come in for a consultation to see how you can begin gathering documents for the eventual release of applications.