What is happening with the DACA and the Dream Act?
On September 5th, President Trump made the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program*. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would accept renewal applications for DACA recipients whose DACA would expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. To renew, you had to submit your application by October 5, 2017.
After October 5, 2017, the federal government is not accepting any applications for DACA. Those who have DACA will be protected until the expiration date listed on their work permit.
With DACA over, we now look to Congress to pass a long-term, permanent solution that will protect young immigrants and open a pathway to citizenship.
Over the last few months, 5 bills have been filed in Congress that want to do just that.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bipartisan bill called the DREAM Act of 2017. If passed, it would offer a route to permanent legal status for millions of undocumented immigrant youth. The DREAM Act of 2017 draws on essential requirements of earlier versions of the DREAM Act. The minimum threshold for consideration includes age of arrival, length of time in the United States, and a clean criminal record. The DREAM Act of 2017 proposes a two-tiered process starting with conditional status of eight years. Within this time, if an individual successfully attains at least a two-year postsecondary degree or serves honorably in the military, or is continuously employed conditional status could be removed and they could obtain legal permanent residence.
BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy)
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced bipartisan legislation with the intent to allow young people who had received protection through DACA to receive “provisional protected presence” and work authorization. The requirements for the BRIDGE Act are essentially the same as DACA. However, an approved applicant is only provided provisional protected presence for three years after the enactment of the BRIDGE Act. Those with DACA would be protected until the expiration of their work permits, and would then be eligible to apply for provisional protected presence. The BRIDGE Act would not provide a path to citizenship.
The RAC Act ( Recognizing America’s Children)
Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) introduced the Recognizing America’s Children act with nine original Republican co-sponsors. The bill would permit young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived here since at least January 1, 2012, to gain a five-year “conditional permanent resident” status if they pursue vocational or higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements. Conditional permanent residency can be extended once for a second period of five years if an individual has been enlisted in the military, has graduated from an institution of higher education, or has been continuously employed. As soon as the conditional permanent residency status is extended, a recipient could apply to become a legal permanent resident.
Introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez, The American Hope Act would allow DACA beneficiaries and other immigrant youth to apply for conditional permanent resident status. After three years, those with conditional permanent resident status can apply to obtain lawful permanent resident status. Time with DACA would count towards in individuals’ three years. The path towards citizenship would be a five-year pathway, but time in conditional permanent resident status would count towards the five years needed to obtain citizenship. To qualify, individuals do not have to meet education or other requirements other than maintaining conditional permanent resident status without leaving the country or committing a deportable offense.
Sens. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act (S. 1852). The bill would allow young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years to earn permanent legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements. The SUCCEED Act would create a 15-year process that would allow young undocumented immigrants to earn the ability to be protected from deportation, work legally in the U.S., travel outside the country, and become a lawful permanent resident.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) introduced the Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act (S. 1937) on October 5, 2017. The bill would permit young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to earn permanent legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements. In addition, the bill would fund the construction of 74 miles of fencing and levee wall along the southwest border and provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary with expanded authority to designate certain groups as criminal gangs or cartels and detain, deport and block them from entering the U.S.
The DREAM Act
What is a “clean” DREAM Act
You may have seen a lot of talk on social media advocating for a “clean dream act”. Essentially what this means is that we want legislation that is passed in Congress to be passed without dangerous enforcement provisions added on in the form of amendments. For example, we would not want to see amendments added that call for funding for a border wall, or for more ICE agents, or a decrease in the number of VISAs given out each year.
Who would benefit and what are the requirements?
What is happening next with the DREAM Act?
Immigrant youth from all over the country have been working tirelessly to keep up the pressure on Congress to pass the Dream Act before their Christmas break.
On November 9, 2017, a national day of action saw 30 schools in 10 states participate in a walkout for dream act. The same day, immigrant youth flooded into the senate building in Washington DC advocating for the passage of the Dream Act.
The 2017 Congressional Session ends December 15th. Immigrant youth can’t wait. National groups are mobilizing the ensure we keep pressuring Congress to pass the Dream Act in the House and the Senate before the end of the session.
DACA in Tennessee
Did You Know?
- With 13,290 total eligible for DACA, Tennessee is part of the top 25 states with the largest number of DACA eligible residents.
- 89.7% of DACA eligible population in labor force is employed.
- $167.1 million: total income of DACA-eligible population in Tennessee.
- $12.9 million: total state and local taxes paid by DACA-eligible population in Tennessee.
$142.3 million: Spending power of DACA-Eligible Individuals in Tennessee
The bottom line
$487,692,000 Annually: The Education Bump
In this analysis, the education bump refers to a scenario in Tennessee in which we assume that half of those eligible for the Dream Act obtain LPR status through the educational pathway by gaining either an associate’s degree or two years toward a bachelor’s degree. With a greater number of workers now having higher levels of education, their total productivity—and their economic contributions—increase.
- Use the United We Dream Facebook Frame calling for a Clean Dream Act
- Share your story! Tell us why you support the Dream Act using #DreamActNow on twitter, Facebook, or Instagram
- Share any of these pre-made graphics using #DreamActNow on twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
- Tweet directly at our senators Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) and Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) telling them Tennessee youth are counting on them to co-sponsor and support the Dream Act by Christmas
- Sample Tweets: @SenAlexander & @SenBobCorker: Tennessee youth are counting on you to support the #DreamAct! The clock is ticking and we need a #DreamActNow!
@SenAlexander & @SenBobCorker: 73% of all voters support legislation to protect Dreamers. Stand up for immigrant youth in Tennessee and support a #DreamActNow!
@SenAlexander & @SenBobCorker: We need a clean #DreamActNow! We need you to take action and protect immigrant youth in Tennessee by December!
- Find your Senator and Representatives on Twitter.
Call Your Member of Congress
Calling your member of Congress back be intimidating, but it’s shown to be the most effective form of direct advocacy. If you have never made a call to your members of Congress, or want some tips, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Know who represents YOU — calling someone you can’t vote for won’t be as impactful.
To find your members of Congress, all you need to know is your home address. This page will also show you their picture, how long they have been in Congress, their next election, their Twitter handle, official website, and direct number to their DC office. Find my member of Congress.
You’re most likely going to speak to a staffer — that’s fine.
Staffers field calls and take note of the issues that they get the most calls about. It’s important to stay connected and continue the calls. Staffers work directly with your Congresspeople and they are important. Be sure to communicate your message firmly, but kindly.
Be honest and tell your story — there is no wrong way to share about why you care about something.
By making a phone call, you get to share directly about the issues you care about. You can call and share your name and your opinion, leave a voicemail after office hours, or go into detail about why the issue you are calling about matters to you and your community. Sharing your story and your opinion is important, and there is no wrong way to do that. If you need to, first write out what you want to communicate and have it with you in case you prefer to read it.
Remember — you don’t have to be an expert on an issue to make a call about it.
You don’t have to know everything about health care, taxes, immigration, or education to make a phone call to your congress people when these issues come up. The person listening isn’t there to check your credentials, they are there to hear from you because their office represents you.
Sample Script for calling to talk about the Dream Act:
Hi, my name is [Your Name] and I my address is [your address]*. I am calling to urge [your congressperson’s name] to take quick action on the Dream Act. In Tennessee, almost 9,000 immigrant youth are currently protected by DACA, but with DACA ending, each day that passes is one more young people start losing their protections and being at risk for deportation. There are thousands of immigrant youth in Tennessee that would benefit from the passing of the Dream Act. Ensuring the Dream Act passes is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do for the economic future of Tennessee and the country. (This is a good place to talk about why this matters to you personally, or for your community.) Please co-sponsor the Dream Act, and to do everything in your power to ensure we pass the Dream Act by Christmas.
*Why do you need to give your address? Giving your address, or at least your zip code, is the best way to show that you live in that congressperson’s area, and therefore would be able to vote for her or him.
Participate in a local action organized by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Stay tuned for their actions and connected to their work by following them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! (Twitter: @TNimmigrant)