Making Sense of the Dreamers Act and DACA Bill Related Buzzwords

140731-daca-sg-1025_d30abccd7adfaaad90f87fb4be6fd961.nbcnews-fp-1240-520

Hi Guys and a happy Saturday to you! Yesterday I planned to do an addendum to my immigration post, but through my research on the Dream Act, DACA bill, and the Dreamers, I decided that this topic is way too complicated not to get a spotlight. There is much confusion as to why Congress cannot just get along and pass the bill and allow millions of undocumented immigrants citizenship. And I think I may have found the root of the problem. Many words related to this conversation are used interchangeably (for example, Dream Act aka H.R. 3440 and DACA Bill; citizenship and amnesty, etc.) and it confuses the heck out of people, like me. So today, I am going to site several sources to make sense of what the bill aka issue really is.

Timeline

The first step to understanding this issue was to write to my state representative, Representative Anna Eshoo. Her reply posted on my instagram page (See HERE) was enough to dispel some of the misconceptions about the immigration system.

According to her, “H.R. 3440 provides undocumented American students who graduate from American high schools, are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as children and have been in the country continuously for four years the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency for eight years. During that time, the student must pursue higher education, serve in the military, or work lawfully for at least three years. Students who meet these conditions are granted permanent residency, and thus the ability to one day become U.S. citizens.H.R. 3440 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee where it is awaiting further action.”

Got it. However, seemingly simple (and we all love a happy ending), but what about those undocumented immigrants that came as minors, but now are adults? Are they covered under the Dream Act/DACA Bill? By the above definition, they are not even being considered. Are they being considered?

According to USA Today, “Dreamers got their name from the DREAM Act, a bill that has been proposed in Congress since 2001, but never passed, that would protect that group of immigrants” (See HERE). Then I looked at another source, the United States’ Congress’s website (See HERE) where the Dream Act is given the introduction date of 2017. Confused? Me too. Let’s move on. According to the same USA Today article, the DACA bill was introduced by then President Obama in 2012, probably to give Congress more time to figure the immigration gaps out. According to this bill, “Dreamers had to undergo a thorough background check, prove they arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, were 30 or younger, were attending school or in the military, and had not committed a felony or serious misdemeanor. The program provided work permits and two-year reprieves from deportation that could be renewed.”

So here we learn that even some adults can get “citizenship”.

The Intepretation

Now that we understand the timeline of the issue, the next step is to tackle the literature of the issue in hand. I was a little confused when online media articles and even representatives in Congress used the word “amnesty”. These undocumented immigrants came here illegally and not because of the reason defined under the legal definition of “amnesty”. To see what the means, read my last piece on immigration HERE. Will these undocumented immigrants be given amnesty (where they can’t go back to their home country at all) or given citizenship, where they have all the rights and freedoms the other citizens hold? The Congress needs to define that in new immigration laws. 

Now, lets interpret the literature of the “Dream Act of 2017”. According to the bill, if it passes, the United States will “grant lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to an alien who is inadmissible or deportable or is in temporary protected status who: (1) has been continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding this bill’s enactment; (2) was younger than 18 years of age on the initial date of U.S. entry; (3) is not inadmissible on criminal, security, terrorism, or other grounds; (4) has not participated in persecution; (5) has not been convicted of specified federal or state offenses; and (6) has fulfilled specified educational requirements.”

Easy to understand, right? Ok. However, only minors who are undocumented immigrants are mentioned here again. You all remember how big of the issue was back in 2000’s where the media showed footage of little boys and girls with and without families trying to cross the border in horrific conditions? Only USA Today talks about those now adults covered under this bill/act.

Another confusion point:

DHS shall cancel the removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis, an alien who was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status unless the alien has engaged in conduct that would make the alien ineligible for DACA.

Question to be asked: Are we encouraging illegal immigration by granting the Dreamers “lawful” status?

The bill continues:

DHS may not: (1) grant conditional permanent resident status without the submission of biometric and background data, and completion of background and medical checks; and (2) disclose or use information provided in applications filed under this bill or in DACA requests for immigration enforcement purposes.

I think ALL immigrants go through this when applying for citizenship.

The bill prescribes the conditions under which DHS: (1) may terminate a person’s conditional permanent resident status, and (2) shall adjust a person’s conditional status to permanent resident status. The bill: (1) sets forth documentation requirements for establishing DACA eligibility, and (2) repeals the denial of an unlawful alien’s eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence.

Where is the literature detailing these points? Do individual States have a say in this? I think these are the issues the Congress needs to discuss, you know really fix the broken immigration system, rather than negotiating. Once we “fix the system” then the rest will just fit. Please read the literature I have posted here and learn more about how this affects you. Happy Reading!!