The Difference Between DACA and the DREAM Act

You may have heard the terms DACA, DREAM Act, and DREAMers on the news frequently. Since 2012, these terms have been used interchangeably by various media personalities and in general conversation. Unfortunately, this causes confusion between the two different terms.

To understand the difference between DACA and the DREAM Act, you’ll need to first learn a little bit about the history behind them. Legal jargon and lengthy press releases can be confusing. We will provide you with the information you need to learn more about each term. 

dreamer puzzle piece over american flag
A DREAMer puzzle piece over the American flag. Find out more about the key differences between DACA and the DREAM Act.

What is DACA, and Who Are the DREAMers? 

The term “DREAMers” refers to the young men and women who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were children or teens and who do not have lawful immigration status in the U.S.

In 2012, former President Barack Obama signed an executive order that provided DREAMers relief from deportation. The executive order was called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (commonly called DACA).

Obama’s order allowed the undocumented youth to receive work permits. As a result, hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth came out of the shadows and applied for the program. According to the USCIS, nearly 800,000 undocumented youth have applied for and received DACA protections.

Former President Donald Trump rescinded the program in September 2017, but he was stopped by the Federal Courts.

But if DACA recipients are called DREAMers, what’s the DREAM Act?

What Is the DREAM Act? 

The DREAM Act is a bill that got introduced in the U.S. Senate in July 2017 (similar bills have been introduced in Congress for well over a decade).

The bill aimed to provide permanent relief to DREAMers by changing the law, whereas DACA provided temporary relief by executive action.

Both DACA and the DREAM Act are similar in that both try to provide relief to DREAMers.

When Obama signed the executive order creating DACA, he did so knowing that future presidents could easily undo it. Former President Trump repealed DACA, but President Joe Biden reinstated it in January 2021.

The DREAM Act is currently only a bill—it needs to be passed by both House of Representatives and the Senate and signed
by the President to become a law. It would be a permanent solution for the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers currently under DACA if it gets signed into law.

When Will the DREAM Act Pass? 

It’s hard to say when the DREAM Act will become law. For well over a decade the act has stayed in limbo with no significant actions taking place. However, in March of 2021, the House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act with a bipartisan majority vote of 228 to 197. If the Senate accepts, then it’s possible that the DREAM Act could pass within this year or the next. 

Remember, there’s no guarantee that a bill will become law, in fact, most bills do not become laws. As the DREAM Act does have bipartisan support there is hope that it could pass both House of Representatives and the Senate and be signed by the President—especially now that all these three branches are controlled by the Democrats who overwhelmingly support the DREAM Act.

DREAMers and Residency

It’s important to understand that DACA does not give DREAMers a pathway to citizenship. It only exists as protection given out in two-year increments against deportation. DREAMers only get provided with the right to work on a conditional basis. The DREAM Act would provide more long-term answers and solutions and a set path towards residency or citizenship. 

Renewing DACA protections is critical every two years. Failure to renew properly can cause a lot of issues. Renewal time is always anxious and stressful, but you can make the entire process less of a hassle with the right assistance. 

Learn More About DACA and the DREAM Act Today 

The experts at FileRight can educate you on all you need to know regarding DACA and the DREAM Act. We have assisted lots of people to achieve permanent residency or citizenship with our services. We can assist DREAMers and help them with their renewals as well. Please give us a call to learn more about how we can help.

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