DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The term DREAMERs generally refers to children under the age of 16 who were brought in to the United States illegally and have adopted the United States as their home. A bill involving DREAMers has been brought up in Congress since 2001 but has never gotten passed a preliminary vote.
President Obama signed an Executive Order on June 15, 2012 in order to implement a policy without getting Congressional approval. The Executive Order qualifies those who:
- Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously lived in the Unites States for at least five years before June 15, 2012 and is present in the U.S. on June 15th, 2012;
- is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard of Armed Forces of the United States;
- Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety and
- Is not above the age of thirty.
The rationale for this decision, given by the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is that the department shouldn’t be wasting its time deporting those people who pose no risk to national security and who want to be productive members of society.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently working on a way to begin implementing this policy within 60 days of June 15th. They are directed by the Secretary to establish a clear and efficient process for exercising prosecutorial discretion, on an individual basis, by deferring action against individuals who meet the above criteria and are at least 15 years old, for a period of two years, subject to renewal. The USCIS process shall also be available to individuals subject to a final order or removal regardless of their age.
President Obama continues to call for legislation around the issues of the DREAMers and other illegal immigrants. Since this is an Executive Order there is a possibility that this will be overturned by the next President. Hopefully this Congress can get its act together and work together to get comprehensive immigration reform done.