From the Immigration Task Force: DREAMers

By Jim Mendez

As of 2017 there were about 3.6 million “DREAMers” in the United States. “DREAMers” were brought to the U.S. as children under the age of 18, and are part of the 10-11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. “DREAMers” would qualify for permanent lawful residency, on a conditional basis, if the DREAM Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President. The “DREAM Act,” is an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act” that Senators and Congressmen have been trying to pass every year since 2001.

For an immigrant to be granted lawful permanent residence under the Dream Act the following criteria must be met:

  1. Continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding the bill’s enactment;
  2. Younger than 18 years of age on the initial date of U.S. entry;
  3. Not inadmissible on specified criminal, security, terrorism or other grounds and not been convicted of specified federal or state offenses;
  4. Has not participated in persecution and
  5. Has fulfilled specified educational requirements.

In 2012, President Barack Obama’s administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA recipients are those young “DREAMers” who met certain conditions to be accepted into the DACA program. DACA recipients were given a work permit and protection from deportation for two years which would allow them to stay in the U.S. to study or work. Benefits could be renewed every two years.

  1. To qualify for the DACA program an immigrant:
  2. Had to come to the US before age 16;
  3. Had to be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  4. Had to be enrolled in high school or have a high school degree or GED equivalent, and
  5. Not had a serious criminal conviction.

AS OF MAY 31, 2018, most of the 702,250 DACA recipients living in the US came from Mexico (560,020), El Salvador (26,550), Guatemala (18,150), and Honduras (16,680), but smaller numbers have come from almost every country on Earth.

Click here to read an article on the differences between DACA recipients and “DREAMers.”

Ten Actions You Can Take to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants

This backgrounder provides suggested actions that you can take to support undocumented immigrants in your community. Included are links to further information, which will assist your effort to launch some of the suggested initiatives or connect with groups already doing this work in your area

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