The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was first introduced in 2001 and had bipartisan support. It was re-introduced in 2011, but this time only with the support of Democrats. However, post-election an increasing number of congressional representatives, both Democrat and Republican, are calling for relief for individuals in the U.S. who were brought here as children by their parents. The current version of the DREAM Act has the following eligibility requirements:
- Must have been continuously present in the U.S. Five years before the passage of the Act
- Brought to the U.S. When 15 years old, or younger
- Have good moral character
- Be 35 years old or younger on the date of the enactment of the Act
- Been admitted to an institution of higher learning in the US OR earned a high school diploma OR GED in the U.S.
The DREAM Act provides a pathway to citizenship, not overnight citizenship. The individuals who qualify and benefit from the program have responsibilities to complete in order to continue their eligibility. If the individual fails to live up to his/her responsibilities, that person would then become removable from the U.S.
In early 2012 Marco Rubio of Florida proposed an alternative to the DREAM Act, but it lacked a pathway to citizenship. No legislation was introduced as part of his plan but now Republicans are proposing the ACHIEVE Act. Some details of Republican proposal are publicized in this article. Like Rubio's plan, the ACHIEVE Act also lacks a pathway to citizenship. The critique of this plan is that it creates a second class group of people who aspire to become citizens but would be blocked from achieving the American Dream through this plan. David Leopold, past president of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association, stated in an article, that Rubio's plan "would relegate undocumented youth to a permanent underclass, allowed to physically remain in the U.S., but never to earn their place in the American family."
A recent article in The Hill called for the DREAM Act, not the ACHIEVE Act as the right solution for young adults.
The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called for the passage of the DREAM Act, offering a pathway to citizenship for youth and young adults brought to the U.S. by their parents. To learn how you can advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act, download the DREAM Act Tool Kit.
Additional information on matters related to the DREAM Act.
Report on how passage of the DREAM Act would improve the U.S. Economy.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In the absence of congressional action on the DREAM Act, President Obama announced that some who would be eligible for the DREAM Act, should it be adopted into law, would receive DEFERRED ACTION. Deferred Action is a form of prosecutorial relief and IS NOT the DREAM Act but temporary relief from deportation. To learn more about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) visit the USCIS website.
If you think you may qualify for DACA, use this on-line tool to determine eligibility then work with an experienced lawyer to determine if apply for DACA is best in your situation.
USCIS releases information on the number of individuals who have applied for DACA on occasion. Read the details for November 2012.
As of November 2012, approximately 50,000 DACA applications had been approved. If your petition is approved, be sure to know your rights. This FAQ document provides helpful information.