DREAM Act: Basics of what undocumented youth must do to not be deported

“DREAM Act Lite” can be a lifeline to end the fear of deportation. Photo: Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at August 2 news conference talking about the DREAM Act AP

WASHINGTON, August 3 2012 — On June 15, President Obama — who did not call it that, but that is what it basically is — gave amnesty to the undocumented children of illegal immigrants. Some call it “DREAM Act Lite.” Whatever it is, it can be a lifeline to end the fear of deportation and the beginning towards one day becoming an American citizen.

Since Republicans in Congress have now prevented the original DREAM Act legislation from being passed, the President intervened with a directive to at least give these young people who were brought here, often as babes in the arms of their parents, a chance at staying here until the DREAM Act is finally the law of the land.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had 60 days to set up the application process after the President’s directive. That means in less than two weeks, Dreamers, as undocumented youth are often called, will be able to apply legally for a work permit and not be deported.

Here are the basics, including a USCIS hotline number to call:

1. Those individuals who are not in removal proceedings for deportation or those who are subject to a final order of removal will need to submit a request for a review of their cases and supporting evidence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

2. But the federal agency has not yet crafted the procedures and no requests are being taken at this time. The application process should be in place by mid-August.

3. Those who have met the eligibility criteria (see below) can call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 with questions or to request more information on the new process. The hotline offers assistance in both English and Spanish.

4. Information is also available at the government’s website: www.uscis.gov

Are You Eligible to Apply?

Basically, the government will be using its discretion not to pursue those:

* who arrived in this country before turning 16;

* have no felony record;

* have resided here continuously for at least five years;

* are currently in school;

* have graduated from high school or obtained an equivalency diploma;

* or are honorably discharged veterans.

But they cannot have turned 30 at the time of their application.

[Also click and read: DREAM Act kids: Democrats offer help for them to remain in U.S. legally]

Those young people who are found eligible for the process can get what amounts to a two-year deferment from any prosecution for living in this country illegally. It is a deferment that is infinitely renewable. They also will be given permission to work legally in the United States.

U.S. officials will then keep their records on file and any call from state or local police checking to see if someone is here illegally will be told that person cannot be held by law enforcement.

The Pew Research Center says that President Obama’s order could affect up to 1.4 million children and young adults, including young people who are 18 to 30 years old, having arrived in the U.S. as kids and are in high school or have graduated. There are currently another 700,000 children younger than 18 still in school with 150,000 of them in high school.

On the day that the President announced his directive for “DREAM Act Lite,” he said, “This is not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the right thing to do.”

For further information click on and read: DREAM Act: Questions and answers about President Obama’s immigration order for undocumented children

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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