Often, whether you perceive undocumented immigrants as positive or negative is a matter of politics. But one thing that should cross all political divides is the fate of the hundreds of thousands of children who were brought to America by their parents, who were themselves undocumented workers.
They had no choice but to follow their parents. When you are a minor child, your life is not your own. You must depend on your parents or guardian to be responsible to make choices on your behalf that profoundly affect the world you live in. Many of these children do not even know they are undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s licence.
President Obama, like many Americans, felt that these children were blameless. He saw Congress’s lack of interest in pushing through any meaningful legislation to address the issue of ‘what to do with the children of undocumented workers’ and hence he made the bold decision to enact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
DACA was heavily criticized by President Trump during his campaign and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program is being repealed on September 5th, 2017. Congress has 6 months to implement changes. It is a real possibility that close to 800,000 Dreamers in the USA could be up for deportation.
If you are a Dreamer and you want to apply for permanent residence in Canada, that should not be a problem. With high English language proficiency and a completed university degree and a few years of work experience, qualifying under Express Entry could be possible.
Many Dreamers are Mexican nationals and hence could benefit under the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA work permits allow simplified entry to either Canada, Mexico or the United States, provided you have a job offer in one of approximately 60 eligible occupations. Once you are working in Canada, there are many avenues to apply to stay here permanently.
I would be remiss if I ended this blog without at least acknowledging the fact that while the DACA program was cancelled, it was an extremely generous program that has no equivalent in Canada. There is no official protection for children of undocumented immigrants in Canada.
With some luck and political action there is a chance Congress continues the spirit of generosity exemplified by the DACA program and provides a pathway for Dreamers to obtain permanent status. But if they do not, it is my expressed hope that at least some of the Dreamers can discover their options in Canada.
Canadian Immigration Lawyer
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