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What does the election mean for the DACA program?

Following the election of Donald Trump, many people in Louisville and throughout Kentucky are worried about their own future and the futures of their friends and family members.

Throughout his campaign, Trump advocated for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. by way of a deportation force. Although he has stepped back from that statement recently, Trump says he still plans to deport between 2 and 3 million people immediately from the U.S.

Many also believe important immigration programs are now at risk. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is one of those programs.

What Is DACA?

In 2012, President Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as an executive action. DACA allows many young people who came to the U.S. before they were 16 to remain in the U.S. as long as they are pursuing an education or have completed high school, have been living in the country since 2007, and have no serious criminal record. Military veterans are also eligible.

If you qualified for DACA, you are allowed to remain in the country for two years and are eligible to receive a work visa. After two years, you can apply to renew your DACA status. Currently, more than 700,000 people are living in the U.S. under DACA protections.

Immigration reform advocates support the program because it protects young, law-abiding immigrants from deportation, helping to keep families who have been in the U.S. for many years together. It also allows these individuals to continue their education and protects them from facing unfair working conditions.

What Comes Next?

When Trump takes office, he will have the authority to end the DACA program -- and some believe he will. However, even if he chooses to stop the program, it would take time -- likely years -- to make decisions on whether everyone who has benefited from the program should be deported.

In recent statements, Trump has said his primary focus would be on securing the border and deporting those who have criminal records. Since those who qualified for DACA likely do not have serious records, they may not be targeted right away.

Once the border is secure, however, he said he will decide how to further approach immigration matters.

How To Protect Yourself

If you are worried about how the election will impact you or a family member, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced immigration attorney. Even if the DACA program is eliminated, it may be possible to qualify for other protections such as asylum or special immigrant juvenile status. An attorney can help explain what options you might have.

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