Immigration Reform: Will the DREAM Become Reality in 2013?

A SparkAction Summary
January 29, 2013

Will this be the year that immigration reform passes Congress, helping families and young people?

The Issues

One in four U.S. children live in immigrant families. There are an estimated 1.8 million undocumented young people under age 18 living in the U.S., according to the Immigration Policy Center.  Every year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools – many cannot access college financial aid because of their immigration status.

Eleven years ago, the DREAM Act was first introduced to give young people brought to the U.S. as children, for whom this country is their only real home, a pathway to legal status.

When it comes to families, parents who apply for legal status often face temporary deportation—and separation from their children—as part of the process. Further, The Foundation for Child Development reports that despite immigrant families' assets -- like faith in work, family and their adopted communities -- their children still face huge struggles with poverty and learning limited by language problems, struggles often exacerbated by a system that fails them.

Ask Angy: Advice for Undocumented Immigrants in America:  21-year-old Angy Rivera came to the U.S. at age 3 as an undocumented immigrant. Now, she writes what may be the first and only undocumented immigrant advice column, "Ask Angy," for the New York State Youth Leadership Council.  She bravely spoke out on NPR's The TakeAway recently, as well.

Current Legislation

The Associated Press reports on bipartisan optimisim that an immigration reform bill will clear Congress in 2013, and that it will include an "earned path to citizenship."

Young "DREAM Activists" across the U.S. are holding rallies to keep the pressure on Congress.

At the same time, some advocates are criticizing the Obama administration for immigration policies that they say continue to lead to too many deportations of young people or their family members. On Jan. 25, the Justice Department appealed the landmark Ninth Circuit Child Status Protection Act to the Supreme Court. This, according to the advocacy group DREAM Activist, means that many young people could face deportation and separations from family while they await a Green Card.

Deferred Action: In June 2012, the Obama administration announced a new policy of Deferred Action, which offers reprieve for some young people. According to the policy,Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will no longer be removed from the country or entered into removal proceedings.” ICE has a fact sheet.

DREAM ACTIVIST has resources and legal information about the Deferred Action program.

We’ll be watching what happens in Congress - -and we invite your updates, blogs and ideas. Submit them as Comments below or email them to Caitlin@sparkAction.org.