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Obama marks 12 years since Dreamers executive action

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Former President Barack Obama on Saturday marked the 12th anniversary of his executive order on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, calling on Congress to enact the program into law before it expires.

The Obama administration implemented DACA in 2012, protecting people who came to the US illegally as children from deportation and providing a path to citizenship.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks at the Obama Foundation’s Democracy Forum event at the Javits Center on November 17, 2022 in New York City. (Spencer Pratt/Getty Images)

Recipients, known as “Dreamers,” could request a two-year “deferred action review,” which was subject to renewal.

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“Today, most Dreamers are adults. They serve their communities as teachers, doctors and lawyers, and have children of their own. But the program that offered them their protections was only temporary, and many of them live in fear of being deported to countries they don’t even remember,” Obama said in X’s post.

President Obama praised the Biden administration for making it easier for Dreamers to access federal programs like health care, but warned that Dreamers will “continue to live under a cloud of uncertainty” until Congress acts.

“That’s why I’m again calling on Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers — one that provides them with a path to citizenship and makes our immigration system fairer, more efficient and more just,” President Obama said.

Defending DACA

Immigrant rights activists participate in a rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on November 12, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden will host a White House event next week celebrating the Obama-era initiative, while his administration is preparing possible new benefits for other undocumented immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S.

White House officials are close to a plan to use the president’s executive powers to protect spouses of U.S. citizens without legal status from deportation, provide work authorization and ease the path to permanent residency and ultimately U.S. citizenship, five people familiar with the plans told The Associated Press.

However, it remains unclear when that plan is expected to be implemented, if at all.

To protect U.S. spouses, the administration is expected to use a process known as “parole,” which not only provides deportation protection and work authorization to eligible immigrants, but also removes legal obstacles that prevent immigrants from pursuing a green card and ultimately a path to U.S. citizenship.

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The power is already being used by other immigrant groups, including U.S. military personnel and their families who do not have legal status.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.