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

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Now that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been rescinded with a six-month delay, focus will be shifting to Congress to come up with a solution to help DACA recipients achieve permanent legal status in the U.S. The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The Trump administration has announced that DACA is going the be rescinded and Congress has six months to act.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?

CREDIT: mitú

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.

CREDIT: mitú

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.

CREDIT: mitú

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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After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

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After Denying It, HUD Declares Federal Housing Administration Is No Longer Helping DACA Recipients With Housing Loans

In a blow to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says young undocumented immigrants will be ineligible for federally backed housing loans. The news comes after months of confusion about the policy for immigrants who were brought here as children. Back in April, Secretary of HUD, Ben Carson denied this at a congressional testimony but a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official said last week DACA recipients are indeed not eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are intended to make homeownership more attainable for those with lower credit scores and incomes.

Credit:@hispaniccaucus/Twitter

“Because DACA does not confer lawful status, DACA recipients remain ineligible for FHA loans,” Len Wolfson, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official, wrote in a letter to California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar last Tuesday. “Determination of citizenship and immigration status is not the responsibility of HUD, and the Department relies on other government agencies for this information.”

The latest declaration is a reversal from HUD’s previous statements to questions about whether FHA is backing mortgages for DACA recipients. The Trump administration has been trying to rescind the Obama era policy but has been blocked by a federal judge from doing so.

“I’m sure we have plenty of DACA recipients who have FHA mortgages,” Carson said at a congressional hearing in April. “I would simply say that I have instructed everyone to follow the laws of the United States with regard to DACA, with regard to anyone who is an immigrant or a potential immigrant to this country, and as long as you continue to follow the laws you will have my approval.

In the letter, Wolfson put the blame on the Obama administration for the policy and its regulations. He references former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s letter from 2012 that DACA “confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship” for recipients.

Even after Carson said that “plenty of DACA recipients” were receiving FHA-backed loans, lenders were being told to do the exact opposite.

Credit:@buzzfeednews/Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, After Carson denied the notion that DACA recipients weren’t being approved for FHA loans, many reported that they were still being denied help.

“The explanation we received from HUD is inconsistent with the realities on the ground and statements made by Secretary Carson to members of the Appropriations Committee, and it does nothing to clarify the confusion created by the agency’s inconsistent policies,” Aguilar said in a statement to BuzzFeed News last Thursday.

The FHA has never stated that receiving a loan means requiring citizenship or lawful status.

Credit:@senjackyrosen

DACA recipients had previously never faced problems when applying for federally-backed housing assistance. FHA has also never had a clear policy that pertains to DACA recipients. According to the FHA’s single-family housing handbook, a housing guide the agency refers lenders to, notes that an Employment Authorization Document, which DACA recipients possess, is necessary “to substantiate work status” for noncitizens and qualifies them for such loans.

Under the Obama administration, HUD was supporting DACA borrowers under these circumstances. Yet the Trump administration has clearly enforced these guidelines differently.

“We know that DACA recipients have received these loans in the past, and it’s shameful that HUD is allowing the president’s anti-immigrant agenda to dictate housing policy,” Aguilar told Buzzfeed News.

This news comes out as the House Financial Services Committee last Wednesday passed a bill, Homeownership for DREAMers Act, that guarantees DACA recipients have the right to obtain federally backed mortgages.

This means recipients also can not be denied based on their immigration status. The bill is set to go to the House floor for approval, but many believe it’s unlikely the bill will pass the Republican-held Senate or be signed into law by the president.

READ: With Democrats Now In Charge Of The House, What Does That Mean For DACA Moving Forward?

Charges Against Disgraced Parkland Officer And New Florida Law Raises Questions for Teachers

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Charges Against Disgraced Parkland Officer And New Florida Law Raises Questions for Teachers

@libertynation\ Twitter

The arrest of Scot Peterson, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sheriff’s deputy who heard shots fired inside the school and hid outside is raising some troubling questions for teachers.

Labeled a coward cop by many, Peterson has been charged with eleven counts of child negligence, culpable negligence, and perjury for his inaction and lies he made about his role while under oath.

Armed and tasked with providing security for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Peterson can be seen hiding in video footage during the Parkland shooting. Many parents of slain children, such Manuel and Patricia Oliver, believe that Peterson should have risked his life and entered the school and do whatever he could to stop the shooter, Nikolas Cruz on February 14, 2018.

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The aftermath of the shooting has resulted in an uprising of teen activism, the arrest of Peterson, and changes in the law.

One such law passed in Florida last month, allows teachers to carry firearms.

The law has raised many questions and much controversy, such as concerns about racism and implicit bias that many fear could result in the shooting of black students. The charges against Scot Peterson and the passage of the gun law that allows teachers to be armed in classrooms has raised questions about the responsibility of those teachers who might choose to arm themselves at school. The Florida Education Association, Florida’s teachers’ union, is particularly concerned because they fear that Peterson’s arrest, could set precedence for holding armed teachers accountable for injuries or death of students on their watch, should they choose not to use their weapon to subdue a school shooter. Tort law speaks very specifically about negligence which the teacher association fears teachers, like Peterson, could be charged with under the new law: “Negligence is the unintentional failure to live up to the community’s ideal of reasonable care, having nothing to do with moral care. An individual who has behaved negligently is one who has not lived up to a certain imputed duty or obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.”

While many believe that Peterson’s case is an anomaly and won’t set precedence, in August of 2018 the Florida Department of Education made an amendment to its insurance policy that makes it clear that armed teachers will not be covered for claims involving “armed instructional personnel while acting in the scope of their activities for the educational institution.”  And while state lawmakers have responded to the Parkland shooting by allowing more guns in public places, in this case schools, the Florida department of education has protected itself itself from lawsuits brought by parents or relatives of those who could be injured as a result of an armed teacher.

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When a state passes a law that encourages teachers to arm themselves to protect children in the classroom from school shooters, presumably other children, many other questions should be raised?

Is the hero teacher narrative at play? Is it fair to encourage teachers, trained to educate America’s children, to arm themselves and protect them or face neglect charges when they don’t or couldn’t?

Shouldn’t we be focused on common sense gun laws? Does it make sense to allow firearms in school?

When it comes to both a rallying cry for common sense gun laws and charges of negligence against Scot Peterson, many on Twitter are asking some of these questions and more.

TruthBeTold wants to know why the federal government isn’t being held responsible for not enacting strict gun laws and asks “What about Congress” What about the president? Didn’t they also fail to protect those children?”

12yearlagavulin and jon-e-lingo point out the irony of laws that protect police offers who shoot unarmed men but convict of negligence. Jonelingo points out how unlikely it would have been for Peterson to face jail time had he actually shot someone rather doing what he did which was not shoot.

Many on Twitter called Peterson a coward for not doing his job or being willing to “put his life on the line. Others, like Junebug, believe he’s being unfairly scapegoated.

Twitter user @LopezMaddox made a donut joke about the Broward cop to make about about Peterson’s lack of action.

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