The DREAM Act vs. DACA

What is the difference between the DREAM Act and DACA?

Laraine Schwartz, Esq. | What is the Difference Between the DREAM Act and DACA?The DREAM Act is potential legislation that must be passed by Congress and signed by the President into Law whereas DACA is an Executive Order recently signed by President Obama in June 2012.

The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) has been stalemated in Congress for quite some time, which is why the President has attempted to address some of these issues through his Executive Order. Both measures are designed to enable people illegally residing in the United States to obtain their work authorizations, Social Security number, and driver’s license.  Only the DREAM Act as previously written would enable a green card to be obtained.

DACA (acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), signed on June 15 of this year, states that the government will not deport those who meet certain criteria, including but not limited to:

  • Children who arrived here before the age of 16 and are under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012
  • Individuals who are in school or possess a high school diploma
  • Applicants who have lived here for at least five years
  • People who have not committed serious crimes

Meeting these criteria will allow undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license and Social Security number and a two-year work authorization. They will be permitted to renew  the employment authorization at the end of those two years…hopefully. In two years, there might be a new president that decides he does not want to renew DACA. Other potential challenges loom at the state level, where seven governors have already said that they will refuse to issue driver’s licenses under DACA. New Jersey and New York are not included in those seven states.

The first step for people seeking protection under DACA is to gather their materials:

  • Proof of attending High School including diplomas, transcripts and a letter from the school
  • Medical records
  • Bank records
  • Tax records
  • Rental lease
  • Bills proving residence in the U.S. for the last five years – specifically between June 2007 and June 2012.
  • Birth certificate and passport to show proof of age.

Over the next two years DACA ensures that there will be no further penalty or removal from the U.S. despite the fact that a green card will not be provided. DACA is new and we all wait to see how the process will unfold.  It is an opportunity for people to move on with their lives and live and work in this country for a temporary period of time, very much like the Temporary Protected Status that is granted to people from disaster-stricken countries.

It is my hope that DACA is the opening of the door to the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would be a more permanent and secure solution.  Americans hopefully will see that allowing other people the dignity and permission to stay here, work, pay taxes and join the military will not interfere with their own livelihood.  DACA and eventually the Dream Act will enable people to reach their potential living in the U.S.

What paperwork are you missing to take advantage of DACA?

Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help!

Laraine E. Schwartz, Esq.

Winograd and Schwartz

Attorneys at Law, PC

440 60th Street, Suite 206

West New York, NJ 07093

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October 2012
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