The DREAM Act debate has been present in the United States Congress since 2001. While considered bipartisan legislature, Congress titled the legislation the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (hence the title DREAM). The bill has been discussed, proposed, and reintroduced several times, but it has never achieved the required 60% support in the U.S. Senate to become law. The debate continues.
In 2012, President Obama introduced a policy known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This action allowed approximately 800,000 undocumented aliens who had come into the United States as children to avoid deportation. These individuals are permitted to legally work, attend school, and join the military as long as they commit no crimes. They may renew their DACA status every two years.
In September 2017, the Trump Administration announced the DACA policy would end in six months if Congress did not institute a permanent solution.
In January 2018, a federal judge ruled that the Trump Administration’s reverse of the DACA policy was vague and unenforceable. This action is believed to allow individuals with current DACA permits to renew in the meantime.
As a result, on January 15, 2018, the administration announced that existing DACA applicants would be able to renew. However, new applicants will be denied.
While there are members of both parties who support consideration for allowing DREAMers to remain in the country under certain conditions, the challenge will continue to be achieving the necessary 60% vote in the Senate required to pass a permanent bill.
Who Are the DREAMers?
DREAMers are individuals who were brought illegally into the United States as minors by their parents and have since remained. Though new legislation may change these, DREAMERS are currently defined as individuals who:
- Arrived in the United States before age 16
- Would be under the age of 35 (under 30 when Homeland Security enacted the DACA policy in 2012)
- Have lived in the United States for at least five years
- Will obtain a U.S. high school diploma or equivalent
- Has maintained good moral character
The highest number of individuals are from Mexico, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
What Would the DREAM Act Do?
Once qualified DREAMers are permitted to remain in the United States, they may be granted Conditional Permanent Resident Status. At that point, each will be expected to complete high school and at least two years of post-secondary education or trade school, or serve as active duty military for two years.
Some sources estimate the number of individuals in this category to be as many as 2.1 million of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. However, the number may be significantly reduced because those with poor English skills and little or no academic achievement may not qualify.
As of October 2017, according to a CNN report, the number of individuals protected by the DACA mandate was 690,000 with 34,000 additional first-time applicants in process.
5 Controversial Elements of the DREAM Act
Question 1: Is it cruel to deport individuals to a country where they have no recollection of living and may not even speak the language fluently?
Question 2: If at least two years of post-secondary education is required, who will pay the tuition?
Question 3: Although proponents believe that DREAMers will become productive members of society as workers and taxpayers, are those who are against the DREAM act correct in the belief that this group (and their children) will become a drain on society and the economy?
Question 4: Does the DREAM Act merely encourage more illegal aliens to enter the United States, knowing that their children can gain legal residency eventually?
Question 5: Does the DREAM Act grant amnesty for illegal aliens?
Each of these questions are regularly argued amongst both politicians and Americans. With political parties unable to agree on any specific DACA resolution, it is a scary time for DREAMers.
In Dallas, Contact Davis & Associates Immigration Lawyers
The path to legal residency for DREAMers remains uncertain. In spite of support from legislators of both political parties, Congress may still not have enough votes to pass the DREAM Act in the coming months. Further, a court appeal by the current Administration may reverse the current ruling and support the president’s suspension of DACA.
What will happen if a new DREAM Act does not pass and DACA becomes permanently suspended? The outcome may be grim for many DREAMers.
The best advice is to consult with an immigration lawyer regarding alternatives. Other remedies to continue your residency legally may be available.
An experienced and award-winning immigration law firm like Davis & Associates in Dallas stays on top of all developments in the field and offers a free initial consultation to discuss your situation.
Visit the Davis & Associates website to learn more about the firm and current issues surrounding immigration law.
Davis & Associates offers a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and your legal rights. Call to schedule your free consultation at 214-628-9888.
About Davis & Associates:
Davis & Associates is the immigration law firm of choice in North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and surrounding areas. Their attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. Attorney Garry L. Davis is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.