News and Resources for Colleges Serving Undocumented Students

New Bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 Would Offer Legal Status and Eventual Citizenship for Undocumented Youth

The newly announced bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 would provide legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship to eligible undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as children. If enacted, as many as 1.5 million DREAMers could be granted legal status, according to analysis by Migration Policy Institute. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have introduced the bill.

While similar to earlier Dream Act versions proposed in Congress over the past 15 years, the Dream Act of 2017 includes a new provision that would enable immigrants earning certain middle-skill credentials to obtain legal status, according to the National Skills Coalition, which has long advocated for this provision.

Community colleges have traditionally served as the gateway for DREAMers, particularly those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants temporary protection from deportation and two-year, renewable work authorization. Research has shown that DACA has greatly improved educational and work opportunities for undocumented youth, with many DACA recipients enrolled in flexible, short-term certificate programs at community colleges, allowing them to work while pursuing their degrees.

Educational Requirements in the New Bill
In order to qualify for legal permanent residence, individuals would have to first meet a range of initial criteria for conditional permanent resident status, including certain educational requirements. They would have to be enrolled in an institution of higher education, or have graduated from high school or obtained a high school equivalency diploma; or be enrolled in secondary school or in an education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or in passing a GED or equivalent exam.  Conditional permanent resident status would last for eight years and come with work authorization.

Individuals could then apply for legal permanent resident status, providing they have met certain criteria, including but not limited to

  • Completing at least two years of higher education or two years in the military; or working legally for at least three years;
  • Showing proficiency in English and knowledge of U.S. history; and
  • Passing background checks, and demonstrating that they haven’t committed a felony or other serious crime.

After maintaining legal permanent residency for five years, individuals could then apply for citizenship.

New Emphasis on Middle-Skills Pathway
The Dream Act of 2017, with its inclusion of middle-skills credentials as a pathway to legal status,  makes it “more responsive to modern labor market needs for middle-skill workers,” notes Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Director of Upskilling Policy at National Skills Coalition. NSC’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found a nationwide shortage of U.S. workers trained for middle-skills jobs, which require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree. NSC has published state-by-state fact sheets showing strong demand for middle-skills workers in all 50 states.

DACA Recipients Would Receive Immediate Protection
This new bill comes as 10 states have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not abolished by September 5, 2017. To date, nearly 800,000 individuals have been granted DACA status. Under the DREAM Act of 2017, the legal status of DACA recipients would automatically be changed to conditional permanent resident status—unless they have engaged in conduct subsequent to receiving DACA that would make them eligible.

MPI’s new fact sheet, Protecting the DREAM: The Potential Impact of Different Legislative Scenarios for Unauthorized Youth, examines the DREAM Act of 2017 proposed by Durbin and Graham as well as a House bill introduced in March by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), the Recognizing America’s Children Act. MPI notes that “given the significant overlap in qualifying criteria between the DACA program and the pending House and Senate bills, the vast majority of current DACA recipients would be able to apply for conditional status under either version.”

Saving DACA
Since various sources have reported that the Trump administration will likely oppose this new Dream Act, United We Dream is urging collective action to protect DACA, including making calls to state Attorney Generals to ask for their public support for DACA, using social media #HeretoStay to share how DACA has helped immigrant youth, petitioning public officials to speak up on behalf of DACA, and participating in UWD’s national week of action in Washington, D.C., starting August 15. Learn more about UWD’s campaign to protect DACA.

A New Tool to Help People Understand Their Immigration Options

Immigration Advocates Network, a collaborative effort of leading nonprofit immigrants’ rights organizations, has created a new website to help people understand their immigration options and rights. It’s free for anyone to use, at www.immi.org / www.immi.org/es.

Here’s what “immi” has, in English and Spanish:
● An interview process to learn about the options, including ways to stay
● A Learning Center that explains the law, legal rights, and important words
● A legal directory to find legal help

Take the online interview
Individuals can answer questions online about their family, immigration history, and more. At the end of the interview, results are shared about an individual’s immigration options. The results include reasons a person might qualify for legal status, and questions or possible problems for their eligibility.

Visit the Learning Center
The Learning Center is an online library to learn about the law and individual rights. It has articles on ways people qualify for legal immigration status. There are articles about: know-your-rights, taking care of an immigration case, finding good legal help, and what to do in a raid or arrest. The Learning Center has a glossary for immigration law vocabulary.

If you need legal help
Immi’s legal help finder is a directory of nonprofit organizations that offer free or low-cost legal help. Individuals can find an immigration law expert near them, by entering their zip code or clicking on their state.

Finally, immi has stories about ways people qualify to stay in the U.S. They may find a story that matches their circumstances, and helps them to understand their immigration options. Take the first step, and find out more on www.immi.org.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program May Be Ended in the Trump Administration

President-Elect Donald J. Trump has said once he is in office he will end the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrant youth temporary relief from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States. DACA was implemented as an executive order in the the Obama administration in 2012. Over 740,000 unauthorized young people have received DACA since that time. According to the National UnDACAmented Research Project’s 2016 report, which was based on a national survey of nearly 2,700 DACA-eligible beneficiairies, many DACA recipients had obtained new jobs and internships, increased their earnings, and continued their education or accessed short-term certificate and job training programs.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) have introduced legislation to temporarily protect young undocumented immigrant youth if DACA ends. Known as the BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy), the legislation would provide temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to young undocumented individuals who have received or are eligible for DACA. While the BRIDGE Act’s protections would be only temporary, it would allow DACA recipients to continue to work and study in the U.S. while Congress debates more comprehensive immigration reform.

Deadlocked Supreme Court Decision in United States vs. Texas Leaves in Place a Lower Court Ruling That Blocks DAPA/Expanded DACA

The Supreme Court’s June 23, 2016 4-4 split decision in United States v. Texas was a huge disappointment. It leaves in place a lower court ruling that blocks President Obama’s expanded deferred action plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work. And it’s a severe blow to the many families that could be contributing members of our communities but instead face the continued threat of being torn apart by deportation.

The two Obama administration initiatives announced in 2014–Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—would have impacted nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants, by allowing certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as other immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, to apply for temporary work authorization and protection from deportation.

While the Supreme Courts’ inaction represents a major setback, it calls attention to the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform from Congress. This current legal impasse also reminds us that, as educators, we must continue to do whatever we can to provide all possible resources through existing channels. The original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, while not a permanent solution to our nation’s immigration problems, remains in force. DACA has offered hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth temporary protection from deportation and authorization to work, providing they meet several criteria. See resources and information on DACA below.

President Obama’s Directive on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to the Department of Homeland Security Allows Certain Unauthorized Immigrant Youth Temporary Relief from Deportation

Under the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security allows certain immigrant youth who came to the U.S. as children and meet age, educational, residency, and other requirements to apply for deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer deportation against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. DACA does not apply to dependents (parents, siblings). They would have to qualify on their own as individuals.

More than 680,000 young people have received DACA. Researchers estimate that nearly 1.5 million undocumented youth in the U.S. are currently eligible for DACA, and another 400,000 children will become eligible in coming years.

Under DACA, young people will be able to seek temporary relief from deportation if they:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the US before they turned 16
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
  • Were present in the U.S. on June 15th, 2012 and at the time for making the request for deferred action with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
    • They never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
    • Any lawful immigration status or parole obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military;
  • Have no criminal history and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety

In 2012, when DACA was first announced, Janet Napolitano, who was Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security at the time, told immigration rights advocates and educators attending a White House Immigration Community Leader Briefing : “It makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on these young people who were not culpable for being brought to this country and who have grown up here…I’ve met some of these students-we want their brains and talents here.”

CCCIE is pleased to share the following resources on how to support undocumented students, including those eligible for DACA, at your college. We welcome your feedback at info@cccie.org.

DREAM Act Provisions of 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Provide a Five-Year Track to Citizenship for Eligible Undocumented Youth and Young Adults

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act refers to proposed federal legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible unauthorized youth and young adults. First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), it has since been introduced regularly, both as a stand-alone bill and as part of comprehensive immigration reform bills in both the House and Senate. The most recent DREAM Act provision was incorporated as part of S. 744, the historic bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that passed the Senate on June 27, 2013.

The DREAM Act provisions in the Senate’s immigration reform bill would make some young people eligible for green cards and US citizenship after five years if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military, a much faster track to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship than any prior legislation. Unlike previous DREAM bills that restricted eligibility to those under the age of 30, this bipartisan legislation, introduced by the Senate’s “Gang of 8,” eliminated that age cap. The Senate bill would also change the rules that have limited DREAMers access to in-state tuition and college loans

Read National Immigration Law Center’s summary of the key DREAM Act provisions of S.744.

Resources

DREAM Act 2011 Legislative Update

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is proposed federal legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible unauthorized youth and young adults. First introduced in 2001 by Sen.Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen.Richard Durbin (D-IL), it has since been introduced regularly, both as a stand-alone bill and as part of comprehensive immigration reform bills in both the House and Senate. The latest version of the DREAM Act, was introduced on May 11, 2011, in the Senate (S. 952) by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 32 fellow senators, and in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1842) by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard.

Click here for National Immigration Law Center’s summary of DREAM Act 2011 key features.

Articles

  • “California Dream Act Offers Path to College for Undocumented Students”
    Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act into law in October 2011. Undocumented students are now eligible for state college aid.  See the article in the LA Times.
  • “In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is preserved with California Supreme Court ruling”
    California judges have ruled to uphold AB 540, a state law extending tuition relief to undocumented students. This ruling represents a success for students and education advocates to expand educational opportunities and to work towards overall immigrant community advancement and integration. For more information, read more and see reaction from the National Immigration Law Center.
  • “In Historic Move, Senators Durbin and Lugar Call on DHS to Protect Immigrant Youth”
    This news release from America’s Voice, a nonprofit that works to build public and political support for immigration reform, describes a bi-partisan effort toprevent the deportation of immigrant youth who would be eligible for the DREAM Act. According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, this initiative “is a significant new development in the ongoing immigration reform debate.  This is the first time a bipartisan duo of leading lawmakers has made such a request, and it is a harbinger of things to come….” Read more
  • “New Immigration Reform Bill Could Help Undocumented Students”
    A Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the recent legislation, introduced by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, that would create a path to legal residency and citizenship for some undocumented students. Mr. Gutierrez’s bill, called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act, includes some provisions from the original DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), , but has expanded or changed some of the original DREAM Act provisions. This new bill adds employment as a pathway for high school students to gain permanent residency, while the original bill provides two years of college or military service as the only routes to permanent residency. Read more
  • “President Obama Links Immigration Overhaul in 2010 to G.O.P. Backing.”
    This New York Times article assesses the political climate in Washington for an overhaul of the immigration system and discusses the bill being shaped by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Meanwhile, young immigrants, including undocumented students, rallied in several cities for immigration reform. Read more
  • “Struggling with the Status of Undocumented Students”
    States are unsure of what to do about the issue of undocumented students. This article, featured in The Community College Times, a publication of the American Association of Community Colleges, presents an overview of how some states address the issue and the potential impact of federal DREAM Act legislation. Also described are CCCIE’s initiatives to educate the public on the DREAM Act and the challenges community colleges face in meeting the educational needs of the immigrant population. Read more
  • “AACC President Urges Congress to Revive the DREAM Act”
    In a 2008 op-ed article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, AACC President and CEO Dr. George R. Boggs notes that passage of the DREAM Act would directly affect the nation’s economic competitiveness and urges college administrators, faculty members, and students to educate local business leaders about the importance of the DREAM Act in their communities. “While much of the business community supports comprehensive immigration reform and increases in the numbers of highly skilled foreign workers brought into the United States, it has remained largely silent on the DREAM Act,” according to Boggs. Read more