09/26/12 (written by maritza313) – A stark difference exists between the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the latter which has been implemented in lieu of the DREAM Act while it sits stalled in Congress. The main objective of the DREAM Act is to provide immigrants who first qualify under DACA with better opportunities, such as the possibility to remain in the United States, achieve higher education, and have better jobs. On the other hand, as stated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “the deferred action does not provide lawful status or a pathway to citizenship, while individuals who would qualify for the DREAM Act deserve certainty about their status. Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status.” Instead, DACA “allows young illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday to apply for a two-year deportation deferment,” reports Latinos Post. As well, it “grants those accepted work permits for two years.”
According to the Pew Hispanic Center and the New York Times, there are approximately 1.7 million undocumented minors that could become beneficiaries of the DREAM Act as it encourages them to first apply for deferred action, a step that could ultimately help lead them to pursue higher education and achieve employment authorization documents. The Immigration Policy Center stated that about 68% of undocumented immigrants that qualify for DACA are Mexican and currently reside in large immigrant‑receiving states, such as California and Texas. In just over a month since the government has been accepting applicants under DACA, over 72,000 applications have already been received, a number of which already approved.
In promotion of DACA and the DREAM Act, one young, undocumented migrant, Benita Veliz (27), a leader of a group called the Dreamers, spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention on September 5. Veliz took the stage and delivered a speech that was arguably “the highest profile public appearance to date by an immigrant from that movement,” reported the NYT, “and it was a measure of how young people have emerged from the shadows despite their illegal status.” Stated Veliz, “I was brought here as a child. I’ve been here ever since,” she said. “I graduated as valedictorian of my class at the age of 16 and earned a double major at the age of 20. I know I have something to contribute to my economy and my country.”
The Immigration Policy Center reiterated the benefits of the deferred action program on the country as a whole, not just for individuals, citing that accepted applicants will mean more taxable income as their access to higher education should result in better paying jobs. In turn, the more income earned, the more it “encourages [accepted applicants] to invest…in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses.” As a result, DACA could provide more purchasing power for immigrants and thus provide a boost to the economy.
For more information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, click here to access Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Frequently Asked Questions page.