In the current American political climate, there is almost constant misinformation being spread about every aspect of immigration law. Conflicting reports abound on every question, from family sponsorship to requirements for asylum—and no topic has perhaps created more discussion (both truthful and misinformed) than the idea of keeping undocumented immigrants in the country via the passage of legislation and/or executive initiatives.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the DREAM Act (which has not been passed, but has influenced the content of other initiatives, DACA included) have been touchstones for discussion since their introduction. Anyone facing immigration consequences should be aware of what DACA actually states.
The History of the DREAM Act
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was first introduced in 2001. The original bill would introduce a set of criteria for undocumented minors to meet, after which they would be granted conditional residency, and later on, permanent residency if all qualifications were met. Various characteristics that applicants would be required to possess include the following:
While the DREAM Act has never passed the U.S. legislature, it is still ostensibly in committee and has provided inspiration to immigration activists who have borrowed its provisions for use in other bills and programs, including DACA.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an initiative begun by the Obama administration in 2012, citing a state interest in keeping young undocumented people without criminal records in the United States and focusing more on deporting people who may pose a risk to national security. The requirements that one must meet in order to qualify for DACA are roughly the same as proposed in the original DREAM Act. This was largely done because Congress has failed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the last decade, even though the world climate has significantly changed.
The main difference to keep in mind is that while the DREAM Act, if passed, would confer a pathway to citizenship on those who qualified, DACA is an executive initiative, coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Only Congress has the authority to create a pathway to citizenship—an executive initiative can change how immigration law is enforced, but it cannot repeal or institute new laws.
If you qualify for relief under DACA, it does not mean you will have the opportunity to apply for citizenship or lawful permanent residence. It means that you have obtained temporary relief from deportation.
Have an Experienced Attorney on Your Side
If you need assistance with a DACA claim, or you still have questions regarding the DREAM Act and the finer points of DACA, engaging a competent legal professional can help the situation. The knowledgeable Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices understand that the immigration process can be extremely complex and intimidating, and we will do our best to help clear up any questions or confusion you may have. Contact our offices today via phone or our website to set up a free initial consultation.
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