Can DACA Recipients Vote?

Updated on April 10, 2024

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, established in 2012, provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to eligible young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. One common question among DACA recipients and the general public is whether DACA recipients have the right to vote in U.S. elections.

30 Second Recap:

DACA recipients are not eligible to vote in U.S. elections because the DACA program does not grant them U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status. Only U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old have the right to vote in federal elections, and state and local voting requirements vary. DACA recipients may become eligible to vote in the future if they obtain U.S. citizenship, but the path to citizenship depends on individual circumstances. Despite not having voting rights, DACA recipients can still participate in the democratic process through advocacy and civic engagement.

DACA Does Not Grant Voting Rights

The short answer is no. DACA recipients are not eligible to vote in federal, state, or local elections in the United States. The DACA program does not grant recipients U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status, which are the two primary pathways to voting rights in the country.

U.S. Citizenship and Voting Rights

Under the U.S. Constitution, only U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old have the right to vote in federal elections. Each state also has its own requirements for voting in state and local elections, but all states require voters to be U.S. citizens. Some states allow certain non-citizens, such as legal permanent residents, to vote in specific local elections, but this is not the case for DACA recipients.

Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients

While DACA recipients cannot currently vote, they may become eligible to do so in the future if they obtain U.S. citizenship. However, the path to citizenship for DACA recipients is not straightforward and depends on individual circumstances.

Some DACA recipients may be eligible to apply for permanent residency (a green card) through family sponsorship, employment, or other means. Once they obtain a green card, they must typically wait five years before applying for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process. Other DACA recipients may face additional obstacles, such as unlawful entry or re-entry bars, that make obtaining permanent residency and citizenship more challenging.

Advocacy for DACA Recipients’ Rights

Although DACA recipients cannot vote, they can still participate in the democratic process by advocating for their rights and the rights of their communities. Many DACA recipients are actively involved in political advocacy, community organizing, and public education efforts to raise awareness about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Final Thoughts

While DACA recipients are not currently eligible to vote in U.S. elections, they can still make their voices heard through advocacy and civic engagement. As the debate over immigration reform continues, it is essential to understand the rights and limitations of DACA recipients and to support efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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