There is renewed optimism that the DREAM Act, or some version of it, could be passed in the near future. The DREAM Act would give permanent residency to non-U.S. citizens who meet certain qualifications (it would also set up other paths to residency through a temporary status and a probationary period).
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is similar to the DREAM Act in many ways, falling short of offering paths to permanent residency. Giving young immigrants a two-year period where they are able to get government-issued identification and can live free of deportation fears. A 23-year-old man from San Fernando Valley, California knows this just as well as the nearly 300,000 people who are approved DACA recipients.
Emigrating from the Philippines at age 11, the 23-year-old says no one would ever suspect he was an illegal immigrant. He calls himself an American, and why shouldn’t he? He has lived in the United States for more than half his life. This country is all he knows now. “If I didn’t tell my friends I was undocumented, they would not know,” he said. “I talk, I speak, I act like an American.”
While the 23-year-old would love for the DREAM Act to pass one day — just like many immigrants in his position — the DACA status he recently received was nearly as fulfilling. “It really makes me feel like an adult; now I get to get a driver’s license, small things like that,” he said.
DACA applicants have a very high success rate of having their status approved; but there have still been roughly 10,000 people who were denied DACA because of clerical errors, paperwork mistakes or a lack of personal funding (there is a $465 fee attached to a DACA application). It is imperative for all DACA applicants to have a legal professional with knowledge of immigration and DACA rules to review the application, giving the individual the best possible chance to receive their DACA status.
Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Empowered by Deferred Action: ‘We Don’t Need to Live Underground’,” Lolita Lopez, Nov. 23, 2012