The term “DREAMers” has been used to describe high school graduates who were brought into the country at a very young age by their parents and know the United States as their homeland. These immigrants were children whose families overstayed their visas or entered without inspection. The term was initially used to describe the beneficiaries of the “Dream Act” otherwise known as (HR1842) and Senate bill (S952).  According to these bills – “Dreamers” include any undocumented immigrant who claims they came into the country before the age of 16 year old and has been here continuously for five years and is under the age of 35. Dreamers have generally obtained a high school diploma or a GED and be actively pursuing post-secondary education or serve in the military. The bill was originally entered into the senate in 2001 but has failed to pass despite numerous iterations.

Despite the failure of the Dream Act, President Obama created an executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in June 2012. This policy allowed certain undocumented minors the ability to be deferred from deportation and the eligibility for a work permit.  The requirement of DACA are similar to the dream act in that the immigrant must have entered the United States before June 2007, Be currently in school, graduated from high school or honorably discharged by the military and be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.  The applicant must also have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or pose a threat to national security. It’s important to note that this program does not provide a lawful status or a path to citizenship. Most importantly, this status does not allow for students to receive any federal welfare or financial aid.

The Pew Research Center estimates that there are up to 1.7 Million young people that may be eligible and as of 2016 844,931 applications for DACA have be received by USCIS with 88% being approved.

Until The United States moves forward with comprehensive immigration reform the “Dreamers” have been the largest casualty of a failing immigration system. Most of the Dreamers (if not all) we’re brought to the United States Illegally by their parents at a very young age and view the United States as the only country they have ever known. Most have deep roots within their local communities and have attended graduated from high school in the United States.  Dreamers are a highly motivated and intellectual group of young people that wish to follow their dreams, obtain an education and give back to the only country they have even known. The Feakins Foundation is one of a very small number of institutions that provide any sort of educational grants or funding to this amazing group of young people. We people that education is a basic human and right and Dreamers (like anyone else) should have the right to educate themselves and follow their dreams.

For more information on DACA please visit the USCIS website