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Get To Know The Dream Act Of 2017 And How We Got To This Important Bill

Now that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been rescinded with a six-month delay, focus will be shifting to Congress to come up with a solution to help DACA recipients achieve permanent legal status in the U.S. The thing is, there is already a solution that has been introduced: the Dream Act of 2017. All that needs to happen is for Congress to take action, bring the bill to a vote, then send it up to President Trump to sign it into law. It has been two months since the bill was introduced and it is still sitting in different committees in the House and Senate.

The Trump administration has announced that DACA is going the be rescinded and Congress has six months to act.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was tasked with the responsibility of breaking the news to the American public despite White House officials saying President Trump would be making the announcement. Then, after some widespread and serious criticism for the move, Trump tweeted that it is up to Congress to find a solution now that his administration ended the program.

Which shouldn’t be hard since both a House and Senate Dream Act bill were introduced in July 2017.

H.R.3440 and S.1615, also referred to as Dream Act of 2017, was introduced with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. What the Dream Act of 2017 aims to do is create a pathway to citizenship to the almost 800,000 young people who are part of the DACA program, so long as they followed a list of requirements.

“There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. I’m proud to have presented the DREAM Act, along with my colleague, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, to give young men and women the opportunity to stay in this country, a country that they love,” Ros-Lehtinen says. “This bipartisan and bicameral legislation is just one of many initiatives in Congress aimed to protect our DREAMers from deportation and allow them the opportunity to continue living and working in the U.S. and, one day, become proud American citizens. I have been urging my colleagues in Congress to hold an up-or-down vote on any bill that protects these young people who actively contribute to our great nation.”

But, wasn’t there already a Dream Act that didn’t pass? What does this new one mean?

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Good questions. Yes. The Dream Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was first introduced in August 2001. It was supposed to legalize undocumented youth that had been brought to the U.S. when they were children and had grown up in the U.S. There wasn’t too much attention to that first draft and it wasn’t until 2010 that there was a big push to pass the Dream Act during President Obama’s time in office. The 2010 bill would have allowed the following:

“Authorizes: (1) the Secretary to cancel removal and grant conditional nonimmigrant status to an alien who has satisfied all the conditional status and certain permanent resident status requirements prior to enactment of this Act; and (2) an alien who has met the appropriate requirements during the entire period of conditional nonimmigrant status to apply for permanent resident status,” according to Congress.gov.

Despite a 2010 version of the Dream Act coming up for a vote in Congress, it failed to get enough votes to pass which ultimately prompted Obama to create DACA.

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The Dream Act came up for a vote in 2010 and died in the Senate. The final vote tally was 55 yes (50 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 2 Independents), 41 no (36 Republicans and 5 Democrats), and 4 abstentions (1 Democrat and 3 Republicans). While the majority of the Senate voted for the Dream Act, they needed to reach 60 votes, or a two-thirds majority, to enact what is known as a cloture. If you can get two-thirds of the vote, you can then bring the bill to a vote on the floor bypassing any opposition’s attempt at a filibuster. A filibuster is when someone holds the floor (literally standing or sitting on the house floor), for as long as they can to prevent a vote on a bill. One example is Senator Ted Cruz’s failed attempt of a filibuster, where he read “Green Eggs and Ham” to stop the Affordable Care Act.

Now, don’t get the Dream Act and DACA confused because they are both very different in regards to what they actually do for those enrolled in either program.

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DACA and the Dream Act are not the same thing. DACA is an executive order that was signed by President Obama that allowed for undocumented youth to apply for work permits and get driver’s licenses, and it protected them from deportation. It did not offer any pathway to citizenship and was temporary, requiring recipients to renew their DACA status every two years. The Dream Act would allow for undocumented youth to get work permits, driver’s licenses and spare them from deportation as well, but also opens up a pathway to citizenship.

The Dream Act would essentially give DACA recipients a roadmap to go from undocumented to citizens over a span of about 13 years.

“America has already invested in these young people by educating them in our schools, and they are now a vital part of our workforce. They contribute to our economic growth and our society as teachers, engineers, nurses and small business owners,” Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard said in a statement. “The DREAM Act would strengthen America by keeping these talented and ambitious young people in our country, rather than losing their talents to foreign competitors.”

First, the person wanting to benefit from the Dream Act of 2017 would have to transition to conditional permanent residency.

To do this, they would have to fit the following requirements:

  1. Be undocumented, on DACA or on temporary protected status. This includes people with removal orders or currently in removal proceedings.
  2. They had to have entered the U.S. before turning 18.
  3. They have to be physically in the U.S. consistently for 4 years before the Dream Act is enacted and have a continuous presence in the U.S. until they apply.
  4. They have to be admitted to a college, university or other institution of higher learning, earned a high school diploma or GED or be currently enrolled in a program to get a high school education or GED.
  5. They cannot have been convicted of certain criminal acts.
  6. They have to pass a medical examination as well as a background check.

“When Republicans say we should not legalize people until we start addressing the fundamentals of a broken immigration system, they’re not wrong,” Senator Lindsey Graham, co-sponsor of the Senate Dream Act bill, said in an interview with Fox and Friends.

After being on conditional permanent residency for 8 years, people can then apply for lawful permanent residency.

In order to qualify for lawful permanent residency, those applying would have to fit the following requirements:

  1. Have a record free of certain criminal convictions.
  2. They cannot have abandoned their residency in the U.S.
  3. They must have acquired a high education degree or completed two years of a bachelor’s degree, served at least two years in the military or been employed for a total of at least three years. There is a hardship possibility for those who can’t fulfill either of these.
  4. They must demonstrate the ability to read, write and speak in English while showing a working knowledge of U.S. civics.
  5. Pass a background check.

“Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people—students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers and more,” Senator Richard Durbin, one of the authors of the original Dream Act in 2001, said in a statement. “Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately. I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they’ve ever known. Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait.”

Then, after 5 years on lawful permanent residency, those in the system can then apply for full U.S. citizenship.

Overall, the Dream Act of 2017 will allow for people to get U.S. citizenship after a 13-year process. Yet, it would immediately take away the possibility of deportation as applicants begin the process to become U.S. citizens.

The Dream Act of 2017 would also ease the burden of people going to college.

It will do away with section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that dissuades states from giving undocumented immigrants in-state tuition or any higher education benefits.

Now, all we can do is wait and see if Congress will pass the Dream Act this time to save almost 800,000 people from deportation.

Trump made Sessions give the announcement that DACA was being rescinded and then threw the problem to Congress. It is up to them to fix the mess his administration has caused for DACA.


READ: The DREAM Act Has Been Reintroduced And It May Have A Winning Chance This Time

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Biden For President / Flickr

An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rely on the protection from deportation and work authorization to live with dignity and out of the shadows. Presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to make sure they stay protected.

Dreamers are looking to a Biden administration to finish what an Obama administration started.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

According to the official Biden campaign website, the presidential nominee will work with Congress to reinstate DACA protections and to create a pathway to citizenship. DACA was won by undocumented activists putting fear aside and publicly fought to change the minds of Americans and politicans.

“Undocumented ‘youth’ are no longer youth,” says Moises Serrano, DACA activist and the man profiled in the documentary “Forbidden.” “DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants have been living in fear and instability for decades now. We survived eight years under the Obama administration and four years under the Trump administration. Immigration reform was promised under the Obama-Biden platform; a promise that is still unfulfilled.”

He added: “We hope that President Biden puts an end to the instability in our lives once and for all, or we are ready to hold him accountable in the same way we held Obama accountable in our fight for Administrative Relief.”

Biden’s policy proposes protecting Dreamers and helping them advance in this country.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

Biden promises to reinstate DACA to protect Dreamers and will be looking into ways to protect their families. The policy put forth by a potential Biden administration is pivotal in giving those who are DACA recipients a chance to live without fear and with all of the rights as their fellow citizens.

“After living through a deep loss in 2016 after losing my second mother and only being granted access to be on her deathbed in Mexico through my ability to get advanced parole through DACA I learned that no loss would ever be greater than that,” said Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient, political operative and policy advocate. “However, November rolled around and another loss took place. One that impacted my life, that of my family and my community.”

DACA is a very important issue as hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are on the line.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

People like Nava are hopeful that a Biden administration will bring that dignity back to the immigrant community. It is a community that is vibrant and has contributed vastly to American culture. A BIden administration would be a chance for Nava to see herself reflected in government.

“I am hopeful to see the daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and a woman I can finally feel represented by be sworn in as the first woman VP of this country,” Nava says. “I will look forward to an administration that listens to the communities it intends to represent. An administration that empowers the entire country to work with each other to support, strengthen, respect and uplift each other each and every day. An administration that values and is grateful for the contributions that immigrants bring to the foundation of our country each and every day.”

Nava wants to see an immigration reform that puts immigrant humanity at the forefront. One that understands the needs for people to seek refuge and a better life in a foreign country.

“No immigrant seeks to find a fix on a silver platter. Nor do they believe that this will be an easy task,” Nava says. “The only thing our families ask for is a chance. Una oportunidad para recordarle a este pais that their lucha and determination comes from a deep sense of ganas to create a life filled with more opportunities than they ever had.”

The battle over DACA is far from over but it is clear that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of public opinion. Biden’s plan would strengthen DACA and restore the program to its full functionality.

READ: Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

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President Trump Falsely Claimed That Covid Is To Blame For Ending DACA

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President Trump Falsely Claimed That Covid Is To Blame For Ending DACA

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In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on behalf of the Trump administration. Since then hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have lived in uncertainty. President Donald Trump tried to rewrite history at his town hall event Oct. 15.

President Donald Trump blamed the end of DACA on Covid during his town hall.

The truth is that President Trump’s administration attempted to end DACA in 2017. Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was the attorney general at the time and made the announcement in a press conference. Since then, the Trump administration has continued to advance a lawsuit to terminate the program. DACA allows for hundreds of thousands of adults to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

Long before Covid, the Trump administration was told to resume DACA as intended.

Instead, the Trump administration has violated federal orders and continued to restrict DACA and those who can apply. The Supreme Court refused to hear arguments against DACA meaning that the lower court’s ruling stood. The ruling was that the Trump administration had to reinstate the program in full. However, the Supreme Court did not dismiss the case allowing for the administration to come back.

President Trump also claimed that DACA recipients and Dreamers are not that same.

Another falsehood by the president at the town hall. DACA recipients are indeed Dreamers. The term Dreamers does apply to DACA recipients who would benefit from the DREAM Act. The legislation would legally enshrine the protections of DACA and was introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois in 2001. Over the course of 19 years, the piece of legislation has not moved despite the overwhelming support from the American public.

People watching the town hall were quick to call out President Trump.

People are not letting President Trump get away with trying to rewrite history about DACA. His administration is the one trying to strip DACA recipients of their protections. At one point, President Trump tried using DACA recipients as political pawns in an attempt to secure funding for his border wall.

Voters are calling on other voters to help protect the program in November.

The two nominees have very different DACA plans. President Trump has and will continue to try to take away the protections from DACA recipients. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a plan to offer citizenship to DACA recipients, something American voters support. DACA is a wildly popular program that gives some of the most vulnerable people in our society a chance to live a normal life.

READ: The Trump Administration Has Officially Rescinded DACA. Here’s What You Need To Know.

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