DACA anniversary

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On this episode of Arizona Horizon, we sit down with Mario Montoya, a DACA recipient, and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The tenth anniversary of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was earlier this month. The program was created during the Obama Administration and was overseen by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

This program is an administrative relief that protects eligible immigrants who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. Additionally, DACA gives undocumented immigrants a work permit. Secretary Napolitano will discuss this landmark program as will Mario Montoya, a DACA recipient who now helps others who are also in his situation.

Janet Napolitano

One of the two guests joining us today is Janet Napolitano. Napolitano served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from January 21, 2009 to September 6, 2013. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Napolitano was mid-way through her second term as governor of the State of Arizona.

Napolitano became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, where she was instrumental in creating the Public Safety Task Force and the Homeland Security Advisors Council. She also chaired the Western Governors Association. Napolitano previously served as the Attorney General of Arizona and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

As U.S. Attorney, she helped lead the domestic terrorism investigation into the Oklahoma City Bombing. As Arizona Attorney General, she helped write the law to break up human smuggling rings. As Governor, she implemented one of the first state homeland security strategies in the nation, opened the first state counter-terrorism center and spearheaded efforts to transform immigration enforcement.

Mario Montoya

The second guest featured on the show today is Mario Montoya. Montoya is a former ASU graduate, with concentrations in business and political economy. He was originally born in Tijuana, Mexico and moved to Arizona at the age of six years old.

Montoya is currently a research analyst and coalition consultant at Aliento.

What is DACA?

On June 15, 2012, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status, but DACA recipients are eligible for work authorization.

DACA offers stability and opportunity

How does Homeland Security view DACA? Here’s what they have to say about this program that has been around since 2012.

DACA is grounded primarily in the Department of Homeland Security’s well-established authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion.

More than 825,000 people have benefited from this program since the policy has created opportunity for people to live freely and invest in themselves and their communities, without the fear of being taken away from their home.

Give Dreamers the same chance

This is a priority for this administration to help these hard-working young people and millions of others like them.

To deliver to Dreamers the certainty they deserve, President Biden put forward the U.S. Citizenship Act on his very first day in office, and he has urged the Senate to pass the Dream and Promise Act and Farmworker Modernization Act.

Both bills have already passed the House with bipartisan support. These measures would help secure the chance to earn citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals, including DACA recipients and younger Dreamers whom the previous administration blocked from applying for the program. 

If you want to know more about DACA and what it has to offer, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website or read an op-ed article from current DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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