President Obama’s deportation relief program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has been big news since he announced it during his 2012 re-election campaign. More recently, it’s garnered headlines because Obama used his executive authority to expand the program to include more young people and parents of permanent residents or U.S. citizens as well. Due to a partisan lawsuit, the changes are in limbo.
While the original DACA from 2012 remains intact, it’s only a temporary solution. All too often applicants haven’t considered a legal resolution that extends a permanent fix. That’s where an obscure program established with little fanfare in the 1990 immigration bill, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), can come in. SIJS has fewer requirements than DACA, and it may be easier to attain for people under 21. SIJS was streamlined in late 2008 and really took off in 2010. It opens up a path to citizenship, even for youth who entered the country with fake papers.
Based on data from United States Immigration and Customs Services obtained by Colorlines, the number of SIJS petitions has grown tremendously–nearly tripling in just four years. Part of that is due to younger refugees seeking safety in the United States. Plus young people who aren’t necessarily new arrivals are realizing that SIJS works for them even when DACA won’t. While we wait for the outcome of the lawsuit, here’s some background on SIJS: