NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Ten years ago, the lives of nearly 1 million young people changed forever after the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- or DACA -- which allowed undocumented children who came to the U.S. with their parents to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
They became known as "Dreamers," and now, there's a growing effort to keep the program in place for a new generation of kids.
On Wednesday morning, the New York Immigration Coalition, DACA recipients, immigrant advocates and elected officials gathered at Castle Clinton, America's first immigration station, near Battery Park to celebrate the anniversary.
Manuel Castro is a Dreamer who came to the U.S. when he was just 5-years-old when his mother brought him over the border from Mexico.
Now he's the New York City Commissioner for the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and is hoping to pave the way for permanent change.
"To come here and reunite with my father who had immigrated a year earlier and I grew up undocumented," Castro said.
Established by the Obama Administration in 2012, DACA allowed undocumented youth to apply for a driver's license, Social Security number, and work permit.
Former President Obama released a statement saying:
"It is not lost on them or me that the DACA program was, and is, temporary. It remains vulnerable to politicians who choose to ignore DACA's remarkable benefits to our country."
Under DACA, there is no path to citizenship or legal permanent residence.
President Biden, who was vice president when DACA was passed is calling for the program to be expanded.
"It's time to provide them with the permanent protections they deserve," Biden said. "I made clear in the state of the union address that we need to provide a pathway to citizenship for dreamers."
DACA has proven to be a transformative policy that has enabled Dreamers to remain in the United States and build fruitful careers and families.
Nearly two million people are eligible for DACA, but in 2021, a federal judge barred first time applicants due to a court challenge led by Republicans in Texas.
With less than a month until legal proceedings that will decide the fate of DACA commence, participants are calling for Congressional action on the preservation of DACA and a pathway to citizenship.
"Despite all the wins we were able to change whether it was DACA drivers license or instate tuition we are here continuing this fight," Castro said.
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