A Brief History of DACA and DREAM Act

Kim See

Back in 2001, the first version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced. As a result, young undocumented immigrants have since been called “Dreamers.”

Introduced in July 2017, the Senate version of the Dream Act allows current, former, and future undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients a three-step pathway to U.S. citizenship through college, work, or the armed forces.

The basis of the act is as follows: With the first step, an individual would be eligible to obtain conditional permanent residence (CPR). From there, if they maintain CPR status, they can obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR or a “green card”). After maintaining LPR status for five years, an individual can then apply for citizenship.

Numerous versions of this act have been introduced, all of which would have provided a pathway to legal status for undocumented youth who came to America as children. Yet despite bipartisan support for each bill, none have become law.

During the Obama presidency in 2012, DACA was established. It granted a form of temporary relief from deportation to undocumented youth who came to the U.S before they were 16, lived in the U.S. since June 2007, and met other requirements.

According to the official Seattle government website, more than 800,000 undocumented youth nationwide received this temporary relief. In Washington alone, “approximately 18,000 undocumented youth are DACA recipients, and we estimate about one-third to half of them live in Seattle-King County.”

However, on Sept. 5 of last year, the Trump Administration announced that it would be ending the program as of March 5 of this year.

On Jan. 10, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the decision to end DACA, and on Jan. 16, the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Three days later, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced they would resume accepting requests to renew applications under the DACA program.

With this, people who were previously granted deferred action under the program could request a renewal if it had expired on or after Sept. 16, 2016. Those who had received DACA, but whose deferred action expired before Sept. 5, 2016, cannot renew, but can instead file a new request.

States themselves cannot legalize the status of undocumented immigrants, but they are able to address collateral issues that stem from being undocumented; several states have enacted legislation that helps undocumented youth overcome barriers to higher education.

On bipartisan vote, on Jan. 24 of this year, the House of Higher Education committee moved to protect state financial aid eligibility for undocumented students. According to the Washington State House Democrats’ website, House Bill 1488 would “protect DACA recipients from losing College Bound state financial aid if the DACA program is eliminated at the federal level, as the Trump

Administration has threatened.”

As of March 15, the bill has been passed in both House and Senate and was delivered to the governor, but no further action has been taken.

But as for DACA, Congress has yet to make a move.