Possibility of DACA and Dream Act Becoming Vital for Children of Unauthorized Immigrants

I have been out of the country many times and have seen the shattered lives of others and their families because of the issue of unauthorized immigrants denied the right of citizenship in the United States. More so, the Dreamers and DACA act have now expired and the government cannot seem to come up with a permanent solution. These acts were only a temporary fix that was the first step into a more permanent one. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is an American immigration policy that permits DREAMers (children of unauthorized immigrants) to receive two years renewable deferred action from expatriation and turn out to be qualified for job permit in the United States(Genovese 16). Some of what I have read about DACA is that congress has discussed on how to come up with a solution to protect these immigrants. Congress aims to come up with something temporary for now in order to create someone more plausible and permanent in the future. Not only do they benefit by staying in the America but also when they enter the working force, they increase productivity. Being out of the country and seeing the lives of others fall apart because of the DACA and DREAMers issue compels me to these politics.

 I have met families where it has been of much benefit and also quite the opposite. I would like to see a good and permanent change for these people. So far, Congress has not decided on a permanent way to protect DACA and DREAMers. The problem of a complicated process for certifying immigrants teens in the U.S that led to the formation of American legislative proposal referred as DREAM Act to grant permanent residency upon meeting further qualifications (Williams 22). The Congress wants the same thing, which is America to be protected and safe, but they do not want to go about it the same way. Trump wants to keep them safe and if possible, not deport as many as possible. Republicans, on the other hand, do not care much for the safety of these immigrants; rather they want them all gone. I believe a bipartisan bill being established first can lead to a more permanent solution for the undocumented immigrants. I also believe that any person who is already under the programs should not be deported unless a crime has been committed. In order to keep these people from crime and potential loss of their privilege, they should be able to go to school and have an education legally. This should be a temporary fix until Congress can come up with a more permanent solution. Therefore, this paper seeks to research on the possibility of the DACA and DREAM Act becoming vital for children of DREAMers to claim their right to citizenship in the United States.

 DACA and DREAM Act Can Become Vital Possibility for Unauthorized Immigrants’ Children to Claim U.S Citizenship

     The administration of President Trump deliberated to end the DACA program on September 5, 2017. However, DACA has been protecting over 700,000 children of unauthorized immigrants since 2012 (Williams 22). These young adults that are protected by the DACA program came in the U.S with their parent when they were kids. DACA protected them from banishment although they were unauthorized immigrants. They could continue to live, work and study in the United States. The Trump and his officials considered DACA as unconstitutional and they threatened to sue it. The senators gave the deadline on September 5 which placed president Trump under pressure to issue a decision over it. No new unauthorized immigrant was supposed to be protected according to the announcement. However, if DACA and Dream Act are permanently rescinded, thousands of people could lose their jobs and more than 800,000 dreamers left in a state of uncertainty about the possibility of deportation and future. DACA program has covered DACA recipients as undocumented immigrants with various merits:

DACA Program Is Meant To Protect Dreamers’ Children

Many dreamers settled in the U.S with their families to avoid repeated risky border crossing in the mid-2000s. Changes in the U.S law in that period made it almost impractical for DREAMers to get rightful status if they were living in the country unlawfully. The children could never be legal residents if they crossed illegally with their parent into the U.S and grew up in the country. A piece of legislation first introduced in 2002 was meant to give them the right to claim U.S citizenship after the DREAM Act. In 2012, President Obama created DACA after legislation was stalled in Congress (Williams 23). DACA provided DREAMers with a short-term grant relief from expulsion and permission to work legally in states. DACA didn’t give unauthorized immigrants a path to citizenship but they could apply to renew their citizenship after two years.

According to DACA, if dreamers’ children are 15 years or younger and their parents came to the U.S before 2007 or they are younger than 31 years during the time DACA was formed in 2012, they are eligible for U.S citizenship. The children for unauthorized immigrants are required to have enrolled in high school, have an almost impeccable criminal record or have a high school diploma. According to Zong et al. (15), about 1.4 million people are estimated to be eligible for DACA if most importantly they have applied. However, only 790, 000 dreamers are currently relieved from deportation after Trump ended the program on September 5.

DACA Recipients Are Being Raised With U.S Citizens

The experience that the DREAMers have had in the United States is what unites them more than how they came. Most of the immigrants did not come from Central America or Mexico but they came in other ways. The DREAMers did not have legal work visas but their parent had. They may also have tried to seek asylum but failed. Technically, if they came in the U. S with 16 years and below, they are eligible for DACA. But practically, most of them were much younger when they immigrated. According to the study that was carried out by Sahay et al. (46), a sample of 3070 DACA recipients was interviewed. Two thousands of total respondents said that they came in the U.S when they were 6 to 7 years old. Since the unauthorized immigrants who came as children were born in another country, they are technically first-generation residents. Therefore, there is more in common in their life experiences with U.S native children of immigrants. Most children of the unauthorized immigrants realized they were DREAMers when they were minors. But they could not join their fellows in filling out financial aid forms for college or getting driver’s license since they didn’t have social security numbers (Williams 25). This rose a talking point that parent should take a full responsibility for the actions of coming to the U.S without legal status. However, children are not blamed for coming along with their parent.

 Dreamers Are Integrated Into the U.S

DREAMers have been protected or legalized for being politically popular. There has been much media reporting on the the problem facing DREAMers since 2000 due to stereotypes that have been pushed by the politicians from the early days of the DREAM Act. The aim of DACA and DREAM Act is to legalize the children of unauthorized immigrants, including their parents even though there has been a typecast of immigrants teenagers as high school valedictorians and best performing college students (Genovese 21). DREAMers are certainly high-achievers but without protection from DACA and DREAM Act, the stereotype of DREAMers valedictorian can prevent them from achieving their dreams.

According to Toroch (75), almost 450,000 children of unauthorized immigrants in 2015 were qualified for DACA but they did not have an educational requirement for it. They did not have a GED and dropped out of high school. Even the children for DREAMers who were eligible to DACA did not go beyond high school. However, 20% of them were enrolled in college, and 7% or about 60,000 of them had a bachelor’s degree. Williams (24) and Roberto (36) found that teenagers had to change the prospects of what they can accomplish to harmonize their new actuality in life once they find out the truth about their unauthorized. Many would not imagine how possible it is for an illegal immigrant to succeed. Therefore, they lost the motivation to pursue high school status careers or succeed in high school.

However, a study done by Keyes (84) shows that around 30% of DACA recipients have at least one Native American child. DACA and DREAM Act has been helping the DREAMers to get integrated into America as they have not seen themselves as American citizens. Wong confirms that 75% of DACA recipients have at least one America citizen as the close member of their family. Toroch (78) affirms that transition to illegality does not make the immigrants’ children to leave the United States but to perceive their lives as more like their parents.

 DREAMers Are Given Criteria to Protect Themselves for the Time Being From Deportation

When the DREAM Act failed in 2010, President Obama declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. The program allowed the children for an unauthorized immigrant to attain certain criteria of acquiring eligibility from the federal government for “deferred action”. So, in summer 2012, the government resolved to allow the DREAMers to submit an application for protection from deportation instead of depending on Immigrants and Customs Enforcement agents to decline and protect immigrants from deportation (Lim 256). President Obama government was aiming high-priority immigrant such those with offensive records instead of low-priority DREAMers who settled for years peacefully in the United States. Therefore, Obama argued that the settlers who would be qualified for legalization under the DREAM Act were not going to be extradited.

The essence of the DACA program was not legalizing the status of immigrants in the United States but to make them lawfully present in the country without legal status. DACA is an important policy distinction even though it does not give the immigrants a legal path to becoming permanent residents but they obtain driving permits even in the states that forbid DREAMers to drive rightfully (Lim 304). DACA also reflects the line between the power reserved for Congress and the power the executive branch has on the unauthorized immigrants. It is fairly common for the president to allow a specific group of DREAMers to acquire a temporary relief and grant those applications on the bases of case-by-case. But the executive branch can’t legalize anybody.

 DACA Has Improved Upward Mobility for Eligible People

Research done by Keyes (96), Toroch (77) and Zong et al. (18) suggests that the children for unauthorized immigrants have gone further, economically and educationally after receiving DACA protections than other children of unauthorized immigrants would have without DACA. A study done by Wong on August 2017 shows that DACA program has facilitated the increase of all immigrants’ earnings by 80% from an average of $ 20,000 to $ 37,000. Zong and Keyes confirm that 70% of the immigrants have now bought their first car and 17% have become homeowners. Due to DACA program around 5% of DACA recipients have started their businesses, 65% of them that are below 25 years said that they are able to secure jobs that match with the training and education they obtained and 62 % said they were  able to get jobs that suited the career  as they wanted.

DACA has enabled the DACA recipients to capitalize in managerial or professional jobs than the U.S and most likely be employed on professional jobs than the unauthorized immigrants. According to the study carried out by Patler et al. (102) in 2015 at UCLA, shows that 85% of DACA recipients were working compared to 70% of their unauthorized immigrants without DACA. It also found that 20% of immigrants with DACA earned 30% more than the DREAMers without DACA. The other more benefit of DACA besides recipient working legally is providing back up to many immigrants if the transition illegality forces them to narrow their ambitions. According to the study that was done in 2013, a year later after DACA was formed, most of the immigrants with DACA felt safer due to protection from deportation. According to the study, 70% said they were not afraid anymore and 66% affirmed they are able to see themselves as American (Patler et al. 104). In 2016, 76% of the immigrants with DACA said they are confident and 74% said they are like Native Americans hence they could plan their future.


The issue of immigrants being in the U.S without DACA has shattered lives of other and their families. The lives of others have been falling apart because of politicizing issue of DACA and DREAMers. However, DACA and DREAM Act can become vital for children of unauthorized immigrants to claim their right to U.S citizenship. This is made possible by the purpose for DACA to be created which is to protect DREAMers.  DREAMers are part of a age group of immigrants raised alongside the U.S. DREAMers are integrated in the U.S and are not all valedictorians and DACA has advanced upward mobility for the eligible immigrants.

Works Cited

Genovese, Tina. "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: One Step Closer." (2017).

John, Mollenkopf, " Manuel, Pastor. “SYNTHESIZING THE RESEARCH: Challenges, Themes, and Opportunities”. Cornell University Press (2016): 252-282

Keyes, Elizabeth. "Defining American: The DREAM Act, Immigration Reform and Citizenship." Nev. LJ 14 (2013): 101.

Lim, Julian. "Immigration, asylum, and citizenship: A more holistic approach." Cal. L. Rev. 101 (2013): 1013.

Patler, Caitlin, and Jorge A. Cabrera. "From Undocumented to DACAmented: Impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program." (2015).

Sahay, Kashika Mohan, et al. "" It's like we are legally, illegal": Latino/a youth emphasize barriers to higher education using photovoice." The High School Journal 100.1 (2016): 45-65.

Toloch, Jan. "American DREAM Act: Final Solution?." (2015).

Williams, Angela L. "A Life in the Shadows: Problems Facing Undocumented Youth." GPSolo 30 (2013): 22-25

Zong, Jie, et al. "A Profile of Current DACA Recipients by Education, Industry, and Occupation." Migration Policy Institute, November (2017).

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