by Félix Pérez
It’s all but impossible to spend more than five minutes on social media and not see some mention of the plight of students, educators and other young immigrants brought to the United States as infants or children, also known as Dreamers, who qualified for temporary, renewable status stay under a program begun by then-president Obama.
The future of those Dreamers, whose temporary protected status was upended when President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, now rests squarely in the hands of Congress. Dreamers and their allies, including educators, clergy, the business community and civil rights organizations, have been pushing federal lawmakers to pass a legislative solution before the end of the year. Trump’s decision to remind the program takes full effect March 5, 2018, but Congress is unlikely to pass major legislation during an election year.
Here then are some key facts about Dreamers and DACA
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What are the qualifications immigrants must meet to qualify for DACA?
Individuals had to pay a $495 fee and meet each of the following criteria to qualify on a case-by-case basis:
- Came to the United States before the age of 16
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the start of DACA (June 15, 2012)
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety, and
- Thirty years old or younger.
DACA permits must be renewed every two years. The program does not give recipients legal residency. Instead, they get temporary reprieves from deportation and temporary permission to study and work.
How many DACA recipients are students?
The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 365,000 of about 1.2 million DACA-eligible young people are high-school students and another 241,000 are enrolled in college.
What will happen to DACA recipients once the program expires March 5, 2018?
The 800,000 DACA recipients, many of whom were brought to the United States as toddlers, will be subject to deportation.
Are there any teachers who are DACA recipients?
An estimated 20,000 teachers could be deported because of Trump’s cancellation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). Meet two here and here. The costs of replacing just one teacher is estimated to cost as much as $17,872, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. That means replacing the 20,000 could cost school districts — and local taxpayers — as much as $350 million.
Must public schools accept students whose DACA status has expired or any other undocumented student?
What recourse do DACA recipients and Dreamers have to address their predicament?
Educators, Dreamer students and other DACA recipients are seeking a permanent legislative solution through Congress. They are urging Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. A bipartisan and bicameral bill by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), the Dream Act (S. 1615/H.R. 3440) would offer permanent legal status to qualifying young people who arrived in the United States as children.
Do Americans support permanent, legal residency for young immigrants brought to the United States as children?
Eighty-six percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll last month. Americans were asked whether they support “a program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime,” all DACA requirements. Support for legal residency includes three-quarters of Republicans and conservatives, 86 and 87 percent of independents and moderates, and 97 and 96 percent of Democrats and liberals.
What can people do to support Dreamers and DACA recipients?
You can urge Congress to give Dreamer students and DACA recipients certainty and permanent protections by passing the Dream Act of 2017. The bipartisan bill includes multiple pathways to citizenship via higher education, military service, or employment. To qualify, individuals must have entered the United States as minors and have had a continuous presence in the United States for four years before the date of the bill’s enactment.