DACA: What’s next for the controversial program as Biden administration prepares to take office?

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy protects thousands of Central Floridians who were brought to the U.S. as children from the risk of deportation.

With a new administration set to take office on January 20th, legal experts say the program is on much more solid footing, but still faces some vulnerabilities.

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There are more than 32,000 so-called “dreamers” in Florida...young adults who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Central Florida resident Eli Garcia is one of them.

“This has been my home, part of my home, where I was able to dream.”

Garcia is protected by DACA, the 2012 program protecting her from deportation.

Current President Donald Trump tried to end the program in 2017, but the Supreme Court ruled against the move, saying the administration needed to provide a reason to end the program.

“Literally, I was in shock,” Garcia recalls. “I took a breath and was like, this is good you know.”

With Donald Trump leaving office in less than two months, legal experts say DACA appears to be safe, for now.

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“The Trump administration has seemingly run out of time,” judiciary expert Anthony Marcum of R Street Institute says.

Marcum notes the Biden administration has pledged to restore DACA to Obama-era levels.

“Once the transition formerly goes from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, many of those legal claims and arguments simply aren’t going to be the same.”

However, that doesn’t mean DACA will be safe long-term.

Central Florida Congressman Darren Soto says legislation will be needed to codify DACA into law.

“The House Democratic majority already passed the Dream and Promise Act,” Soto says.

If DACA legislation is passed, the policy stays. If not, it could be vulnerable again depending on what happens in 2024.

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Polling suggests a majority of Americans favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

Senate Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio, have suggested they would like to see a legislative fix, but so far, one has remained elusive.