DREAMers and DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals


In 2010, the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) failed to pass the House. It specified a six-year path for illegal aliens to eventually become US citizens if:

  • they were brought to the US before the age of 16, are pursuing education or military service
  • they have been in the country for five years continuously
  • they have a clean criminal record
  • they are between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of the bill’s enactment.


While the DREAM Act failed, the name stuck, and now the term DREAMers applies generally to illegal aliens under the age of 35 seeking full or partial legalization / amnesty and/or taxpayer subsidized tuition.

DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

In 2012, President Obama unilaterally implemented a new program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates there are 1.2 million DREAMers to whom this action applies. Under DACA, illegal aliens are offered two years of amnesty ("deferred action" - meaning a stay of deportation), are given a social security number, and are allowed to apply for a work permit.

It should be noted that a grant of DACA status does not confer lawful immigration status, provide a path to citizenship (amnesty), or alter an illegal alien's existing immigration status.

In August, 2012, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated:

The president"s amnesty program is a magnet for fraud and abuse. While potentially millions of illegal immigrants will be permitted to compete with American workers for scarce jobs, there seems to be little if any mechanism in place for vetting fraudulent applications and documentation submitted by illegal immigrants."

The Binational Migrant Education Program

The Binational Migrant Education Program supports the Binational Teacher Exchange Program in order to improve educational continuity for migrant students. The effort began in 1976 and a US - Mexico Memorandum of Understanding was established in 1990.

DACA illegal alien teachers in public schools

In April, 2014, it was discovered that Denver Public Schools (DPS) is working with the Teach for America program to use illegal aliens with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status as teachers.

In-state tuition for illegal aliens

Another category to which the term DREAMers applies is those illegal aliens seeking or given in-state college tuition for illegal aliens. Federal law mandates that if instate rates are given to illegals, those rates must also be given to all applicants to Colorado's colleges and universities from the other 49 states. Federal Law Title 8, Chapter 14, Sec. 1623 states:

"an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State... for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit."

Although the law is not actively enforced, giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens is a clear violation of federal law. In-state tuition for illegals is in fact an amnesty disguised as an educational initiative.

SB13-033 was signed into law on April 29, 2013. It goes overboard to provide financial aid to illegal alien students. The bill makes illegal aliens eligible for College Opportunity Trust funds and full institutional financial aid. The bill also exempts persons receiving educational services or benefits from providing any required documentation of lawful presence in the United States. This specifically overrides 2006 HB 1023 - the most important immigration sanity bill to come out of the 2006 special legislative session.

HB 1023 requires each applicant who applies for public benefits to affirm that they are lawfully present in the country.

For more information, see In-state college tuition for illegal aliens.



Articles on DACA and DREAMers

Here is a CAIRCO collection of articles on DACA and DREAMers.

Also see CAIRCO Highlights:



1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - DHS:

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:
  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Also see Frequently Asked Questions about DACA:

Q1: What is deferred action?

A1:Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual. In addition, although an individual whose case is deferred will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not excuse individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.

Q6: If my case is deferred, am I in lawful status for the period of deferral?

A6: No. Although action on your case has been deferred and you do not accrue unlawful presence during the period of deferred action, deferred action does not confer any lawful status. There is a significant difference between “unlawful presence” and “unlawful status.” Unlawful presence refers to a period an individual is present in the United States (1) without being admitted or paroled or (2) after the expiration of a period of stay authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (such as after the period of stay authorized by a visa has expired). Unlawful presence is relevant only with respect to determining whether the inadmissibility bars for unlawful presence, set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act at Section 212(a)(9), apply to an individual if he or she departs the United States and subsequently seeks to re-enter. (These unlawful presence bars are commonly known as the 3- and 10-Year Bars.)

The fact that you are not accruing unlawful presence does not change whether you are in lawful status while you remain in the United States. Because you lack lawful status at the time DHS defers action in your case, you remain subject to all legal restrictions and prohibitions on individuals in unlawful status.

Under existing regulations, an individual whose case has been deferred is eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time at the agency’s discretion.

Q7: Does deferred action provide me with a path to permanent residence status or citizenship?

A7: No. Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that does not confer lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

2. Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process - Update for DACA Renewals April 9, 2014, USCIS.

3. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - Guidance for Employers

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (deferred action) and are eligible to apply for work authorization. Individuals whose cases are deferred and who are granted work authorization will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)...

4. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - Statistics August 2012 to May, 2013, USCIS.

5. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the One-Year Mark: A Profile of Currently Eligible Youth and Applicants, Migraion Policy Institute, August, 2013 (view brief).

Based on an innovative methodology to analyze U.S. Census Bureau data, MPI estimates that up to 1.9 million unauthorized immigrants [illegal aliens] under age 31 are potentially eligible for DACA — with 1.09 million currently meeting the age, education, length of residence and other criteria; 423,000 appearing to fulfill all but the education requirements; and 392,000 who are too young to apply now but would become eligible once they reach age 15 if they stay in school or obtain a high school degree or equivalent.

The brief highlights that there may be substantial barriers for a significant portion of the unauthorized population in meeting DACA's requirements. Of the individuals who fulfill all about the education requirements, MPI estimates that 58 percent have completed some high school, while 42 percent have not completed any high school grades. Over two-thirds (69 percent) are limited English proficient. These factors, along with low income levels, parenting responsibilities and other issues, make it difficult for many to enroll in the adult education or career training programs that would make them eligible for DACA...

6. U.S. will stop deporting some illegal immigrants who came here as children, WP Politics, June 15, 2012.

Obama... [granted] a two-year reprieve from deportation for certain eligible immigrants [illegal aliens] but not granting them legal status... Eligible immigrants [illegal aliens] will now receive “deferred action,” which essentially means a two-year reprieve from deportation along with the chance to apply for a work permit...

7. As Many as 1.76 Million Unauthorized Immigrant Youth Could Gain Relief from Deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Initiative, Migraion Policy Institute, August 7, 2012.

8. The Binational Migrant Education Program.

9. Indiscrete Discretion - Obama proxies suggest there’s ample precedent for his planned massive executive amnesty - there isn’t, Mark Krikorian, National Review Online, August 16, 2014.

DACA... confers work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, documents allowing foreign travel, eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and affirmative-action preferences, and more. It’s an actual amnesty, “green-card lite,” if you will...

Nor is there anything genuinely temporary about it; the limited period merely requires a pro forma renewal every two years, something that is already underway...

Regardless of the president’s authority in foreign affairs, such [execurive amnesty] actions impinged on Congress’s plenary power over immigration policy. Congress grew uncomfortable with the executive’s unilateral ad-hocism, so in 1990 it created something called “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS), in an effort to regularize and subject to statutory control the executive’s exercise of unilateral amnesty.

TPS is itself a fraud perpetrated against the public (no one with such “temporary” protection in the U.S. has ever been made to leave — ever)...

But as fraudulent as TPS may be, it’s a statutory tool created by Congress in an attempt to preserve the flexibility needed by the executive but to strictly control it. Grants of TPS require Federal Register notices and formal estimates of the number likely to benefit, and may not last longer than 18 months (though they may be renewed). What’s more, the statute narrowly defines when TPS may be used to amnesty illegal aliens, rendering it pretty much useless for Obama’s mass-amnesty purposes. It can be applied only if the illegals’ home country is experiencing “ongoing armed conflict,” “earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster in the state resulting in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions,” or “extraordinary and temporary conditions . . . that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety.”

In other words, Congress acted in 1990 to prevent unilateral, extra-legal grants of amnesty by the executive...

10. Obama's immigration plan isn't worth the paper it's printed on, The Hill, November 21, 2014.

11. DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action, Migration Policy Institute, August, 2014:

Since the Obama administration launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, which offers temporary relief from deportation and the right to apply for work authorization for certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children, 55 percent of the 1.2 million youth who immediately met the program's criteria have applied, according to MPI estimates. As the first two-year eligibility period draws to a close, early DACA beneficiaries have begun to apply for renewal, with nearly 25,000 renewal applications submitted as of July 20, 2014.

This report provides the most up-to-date estimates available for the size, countries of origin, educational attainment, employment, English proficiency, age, gender, and poverty rates for the DACA population nationally and for key states, based on an analysis of U.S. Census data. The report also offers DACA application rates nationally and in key states, as well as for particular national-origin groups. The report is accompanied by a new data tool that offers estimates of the current and potentially eligible DACA populations for 41 states, as well as detailed profiles for the United States and 25 states.

The MPI researchers find that slightly more than 2.1 million unauthorized immigrants [illegal aliens] who came to the United States as children are potentially eligible for DACA...

From the report: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Profile: Colorado:

Total: 40,000
Immediately Eligible (ages 15 and over): 20,000
Eligible but for Education (ages 15 and over): 8,000
Eligible in the Future (under age 15): 12,000

12. DHS Confirms Obama's Amnesty Isn't Temporary, Townhall, February 13, 2015.

13. Why Trump must end DACA, by Dale Wilcox, The Hill, January 29, 2017.

14. Betrayal! Trump grants amnesty to 125,000 illegals in 3 months, by Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review, June 9, 2017:

We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants, five million. And how about all the millions that are waiting on line, going through the process legally? So unfair. ~ Donald Trump, August 31, 2016

Today, we have unveiled a real scandal in the Trump administration. And no, it has nothing to do with James Comey.

While much of the conservative media is consumed with Comey and Russia, they are missing the irony of defending an administration without even securing some key policy outcomes. The latest betrayal to the Right is the confirmation that Trump’s DHS has issued almost 125,000 “DACA” cards (per Obama’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order) to illegal aliens through the second quarter of this fiscal year (January through March).

According to newly published data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Trump administration has issued 17,275 initial amnesty cards and over 107,500 renewals of existing status.

This surpasses the 122,000 level of amnesty cards issued during the final quarter of Obama’s presidency (Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2016), which means the Trump administration is not even slowing down the pace! And although the first 20 days of this quarter were still under Obama’s tenure, the Trump amnesty is likely close to 200,000 by now, when extrapolating in the number of presumed cards issued during April and May...

The jarring thing here is that Trump could fulfill a core campaign promise simply by refusing to renew existing DACA cards...

Obama’s executive amnesty was not merely the suspension of deportations of certain classes of illegal aliens; it offered them benefits and affirmative legal status, with Social Security cards, work permits, and thousands of dollars in refundable tax credit welfare payments. In fact, well over 500,000 illegals had received Social Security cards by 2014 (more likely to be 800,000 by now).

According to a Congressional Research Service memo, illegal families could receive as much as $35,000 in retroactive EITC benefits the first year after being approved for Obama’s executive amnesty.

15. How DACA Will End: A Timeline of Expiration, David Bier, CATO, December 16, 2017:

How DACA operates

There are essentially three parts of DACA, which are detailed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum from Secretary Janet Napolitano. The first part is the deprioritization of removal of non-criminal unauthorized immigrants...

The second part of DACA essentially formalizes that decision not remove them. DACA recipients apply for and are issued a Notice of Action I-797 form (below) stating that removal action against them has been “deferred” for two years...

Finally, this receipt of deferred action authorizes the immigrants to request an employment authorization document (EAD) similar to the one below, which is also valid for two years. Under current law, any person in the United States—legally or illegally—can legally seek employment, but it is illegal for an employer to employ a noncitizen who is not authorized to work...

Trump could easily cancel the second part of DACA on day 1, telling U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to cease accepting applications for I-797 deferred action forms. These forms are technically valid for two years, but they clearly state that they were issued as part of DACA. Deleting DACA recipients from ICE databases that list them as “lawfully present” could be more time-consuming, but probably not technically impossible...

How DACA would naturally wind down

Even if it wanted to, the Trump administration would likely be dissuaded from ending DACA immediately by the practicalities of cancelling all 800,000 EADs alone. But it makes especially little sense to do this when a majority of the EADs will expire within a year of Trump assuming office in any case...

More than 85 percent of all DACA EADs are 2-year authorizations. Another 108,000 are 3-year authorizations that were issued in late 2014 and early 2015...

Worst case and best case scenario for DACA recipients under President Trump

The worst case scenario for DACA recipients would be that the Trump administration stops accepting new DACA applications and eliminates any kind of priorities for removal, allowing agents to apprehend any unauthorized immigrant that they meet...

At the other extreme, the Trump administration could continue the current priorities for removal and allow current recipients of DACA to use their EADs until they expire, while not accepting new applications or renewals. This would be the least controversial and most practical decision that would also be consistent with Trump’s campaign promises.

16. The DACA Amnesty Must Be Ended, Kris Kobach, Breitbart, August 30, 2017. Specific and crucial reasons why DACA is illegal.

17. DACA and REAL ID, a Contradiction in Terms?, by Andrew R. Arthur, Center for Immigration Studies, October 16, 2017.