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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Tracewell

DACA and The Dream Act in Simple Terms

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

by Jaymie Leach, BEC Counselor

What is DACA?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2015 the secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of 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 removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.

Does this apply to me?

You may request DACA if you:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:

  • You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or

  • Any lawful immigration status or parole that you 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, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Please speak with your Advisor or one of our College & Career Counselors or visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information.


The Dream Act would permanently protect certain immigrants who came to the United States as children but are vulnerable to deportation. This fact sheet provides an overview of the most recent version of the Dream Act and similar legislative proposals.

The first version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in 2001. In part because of the publicity around that bill, young undocumented immigrants have been referred to as “Dreamers.” Over the last 20 years, at least 11 versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in Congress.

While the various versions of the bill have contained some key differences, they all would have provided a pathway to legal status for undocumented people who came to this country as children.

Here is a great podcast from the perspective of two individuals that have grown up in the United States as DACA citizens: on the floor Episode 21.

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