The End of DACA: A Look Around the World

By Erin Novak ’18

In an effort to explore and understand new solutions to the current immigration crisis, it is worthwhile to compare the experiences of child immigrants in both the U.S. and abroad. For instance, the United Kingdom has significant issues with young individuals who have entered the country illegally. The Guardian newspaper recounted the story of a woman named Marianne, who came to the U.K. from Nigeria.[1] At the age of nineteen, Marianne received a text message informing her she was residing in the country illegally and needed to leave.[2] Marianne was quoted as saying “How would I survive in Nigeria? I had no address to go to.”[3] That is the predicament that many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients may be facing in the United States if the program is terminated.

In the wake of the decision to repeal DACA under the Trump administration, there is widespread misinformation on both sides of the debate. DACA was first introduced by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, on June 15, 2012.[4] Among other requirements, when DACA was first introduced, it required individuals to have entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007, to be “under the age of 31 [and to have come] to the U.S. before their 16th birthday.”[5] Two years later, President Obama expanded DACA by eliminating the age cap and “changing the continuous resident date to begin on January 1, 2010.”[6] In addition to these requirements, it was also necessary for the DACA applicants to be a current student, a graduate of a school, or a recipient of an honorable discharge from the U.S. military at the time they filed their application.[7] DACA recipients, colloquially referred to as “Dreamers” after President Obama’s DREAM Act, are able to remain in school and are considered domiciled in the state where they reside for in-state tuition, and are also eligible to apply for a Work Authorization Document with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).[8] If granted work authorization, they may obtain a Social Security card and be responsible for paying both federal and state taxes.[9] Dreamers may also obtain a driver’s license depending on the state in which they reside.[10]

However, DACA recipients are not eligible for Medicaid or Obamacare.[11] Most notably, Dreamers do not receive a path to citizenship or eligibility to apply for a Green Card through DACA.[12] Even so, DACA remains one of the most progressive and generous immigration policies that the United States has implemented. The Trump administration announced that Dreamers whose statuses will expire after the March 5, 2018 deadline have until October 5, 2017 to renew.[13] With the termination of DACA looming in the not-so-distant future, it may be profitable to compare U.S. treatment of child immigrants around the world to seek new potential solutions.

After the 2016 presidential election, many undocumented immigrants in the United States fled to Canada in response to both the Trump administration’s immigration policies and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s January 2017 tweet welcoming refugees into Canada.[14] So many individuals have crossed the U.S.-Canadian border that the Montreal Olympic Stadium was temporarily converted to a refugee resettlement center.[15] Guidy Mamann, a Canadian immigration attorney, believes that Canada could serve as a potential second option for Dreamers when DACA is ultimately revoked.[16] Although Mamann goes on to say that Canada has never had an immigration program as generous as DACA,[17] Canadian laws may allow for child immigrants to continue their education in a Canadian school.

The Ontario Education Act makes it illegal for schools and universities in Ontario to deny a student based on their undocumented status.[18] However, only 14% of schools in Toronto accept undocumented minors to study at their institutions.[19] The most efficient way for minors with ambitions of emigrating to and studying in Canada is to apply for a student permit. To do so they must prove that they are entering the country with the support of a family member or guardian.[20] For child immigrants who have already crossed a Canadian border they still may be able to apply for a student permit if their parents have been authorized to work or study in the country.[21] For those minors entering school at a kindergarten or pre-school level, no student permit is required.[22] In addition, child immigrants who are refugees or whose parents are refugees are also exempt from needing a student permit to study in a Canadian school.[23] Considering all of these options, pursuing an education in Canada may be one of the best courses for Dreamers to take when DACA is repealed.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has an immigration program very similar to DACA called the “7 Year Children Rule” that was terminated in 2008 only to be reinstated in 2012.[24] Under this program, children who lived continuously in the U.K. for seven consecutive years could remain in the country with their families.[25] The reasoning behind the reinstatement was “the understanding that children will have integrated and adapted to life in the UK within this period of time, to such a degree as to remove them would be detrimental to their wellbeing and to expect them to be removed would be considered as unreasonable.”[26] Even with this program, immigration organizations still suggest that children who reside illegally in the U.K. apply before they turn 18 years old.[27] The organization, Citizens Advice, stated that if young people do not have legal papers by then, “they can’t study beyond 18.”[28] After illegal immigrants brought to the U.K. as children turn 18, they can be subject to deportation.[29]

Spain has perhaps the most relatively liberal approach to this issue. Spain is currently hosting approximately 6,000,000 immigrants[30] and has carried out six legalization programs since 1985, which is more than any other country.[31] The December 1999 immigration law provided immigrant children with a K-12 education as well as free medical care, equal to that of Spaniards.[32] Unaccompanied minors are housed in children’s shelters called centros de acogida de menores.[33] The Spanish Constitution proclaims equality for all citizens living on Spanish soil.[34] The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) Article 3 provides that “each child has the right not to be subject to any discrimination by reason of origin, nationality, race, sex, religion, language or culture, opinion or any other personal, family or social circumstances.”[35] While this policy provides humane approaches to the issue, it might not be plausible currently in the United States.

With the wide range of approaches different countries have implemented, circumstances could always be worse. Germany, for example, has taken a more draconian approach.[36] In 2015 Germany deported over 600 unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, and Iraq, because they “failed to meet asylum requirements.”[37] Taken in a worldwide context however the complexity and sensitivity of an issue of this magnitude is undeniable. The many political, economic, and social consequences of this action taken by the Trump administration are unprecedented. The termination of DACA in the U.S., and the deportation of individuals such as Marianne, will force millions of children and teens to leave the only country they have ever known, to abandon the only language they speak, and to leave behind the nation they have come to love. With the implementation of DACA, some would say the United States established itself as a world leader in immigration reform in an effort to solve this global immigration crisis. With its repeal, it is imperative that we search for new solutions and continue to guide the international community into the future.

[1] Louise Tickle, No Place To Go: The Undocumented Children Facing Deportation from the U.K., The Guardian (Sept. 25, 2015, 9:39 AM),

[2] Tickle, supra note 1.

[3] Tickle, supra note 1.

[4] Ira J. Kurzban, Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook 1539 (15th ed. 2016).

[5] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[6] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[7] Kurzban, supra, note 4 at 1540.

[8] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[9] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[10] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[11] Kurzban, supra note 4.

[12] DACA, immigrant legal res. ctr. (ILRC), (last visited Sept. 20, 2017).

[13] Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 2017 Announcement, u.s. citizenship & immigration services, (last visited Sept. 20, 2017).

[14] Andy J. Semotiuk, Illegal Immigrants Flee to Canadian Border as Trump Cracks Down on Immigration in the U.S., Forbes (Aug. 12, 2017, 2:24PM),

[15] Semotiuk, supra note 14.

[16] Patrick Cain, Canada Could be a Plan B for Older Dreamers, Immigration Lawyer Says, Global News, (Sept. 5, 2017, 3:11 PM),

[17] Cain, supra note 16.

[18] Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2 (Can.),

[19] Michael Niren, Toronto School Board Allegedly Rejecting Children of Non Immigration-Status Parents Only 14 Per Cent of Schools Accept Children of Non Immigration-Status Parents,

VisaPlace, (last visited Sept. 20, 2017).

[20] Studying in Canada as a minor, gov’t of can., (last visited Sept. 20, 2017).

[21] Gov’t of Can., supra note 20.

[22] Gov’t of Can., supra note 20.

[23] Gov’t of Can., supra note 20.

[24] Guidance on the 7 Year Rule, Immigration Advice Serv. (IAS), (last visited on Sept. 20, 2017).

[25] IAS, supra note 24.

[26] IAS, supra note 24.

[27] If Your Child is Living in the UK Illegally, citizens advice, (last visited Sept. 23, 2017).

[28] citizens advice, supra note 27.

[29] Tickle, supra note 1.

[30] Immigration to Spain, Baltic Legal Immigration Serv., (last visited Sept. 23, 2017).

[31] Jason DeParle, Spain, like U.S., Grapples with Immigration, N.Y. Times, June 10, 2008, at A1.


[32] Spain: Immigration Law, Migration News, (last visited Sept. 23, 2017)

[33] Spain Immigration Detention, Global Detention Project, (last visited Sept. 23, 2017).

[34] Francesca Boniotti, World Org. Against Torture (OMCT), Rights of the Child in Spain, at 5 (Roberta Cecchetti & Sylvian Vité 2002),

[35] Boniotti, supra note 34.

[36] German Authorities Deported 620 Unaccompanied Minors, DW (August 2, 2017),

[37] DW, supra at note 36.

One comment

  1. I completly agree with this article but situation now changed after new goverment
    im planning for moving my self from au to usa and currently discussing my case with one of top consultant is it good move or not

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *