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Legal Projects

DREAMers Immigration Project

This project is currently on hold, pending Congressional action.

The DREAMers Immigration Project assists young immigrants in applying for Deferred Action legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Action immigration relief program. The program de-prioritizes certain immigrants from deportation proceedings, granting them a level of stability, and confers a 2-year, renewable work permit upon the recipient, which allows them to work legally, file taxes, open a bank account, and obtain a driver’s license. Although the recipient is still barred from participation in many benefits programs and is not immune to deportation, DACA status is still life-changing for individuals.

President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Action program on June 15, 2012 after partisanship in Congress had impeded the implementation of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. To qualify for the program, you must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, have continuously resided in the U.S. on and during the five years preceding June 15, 2012, be enrolled in or have graduated from school or military service, and have no felonies or significant misdemeanors. This is not a complete list of DACA qualifications; to learn more, please contact ILCM or refer to this information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

DACA-eligible youth are known as “DREAMers” after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act’s failure to pass at the federal level precipitated the President’s institution of DACA, and several states (including Minnesota) have adopted DREAM Acts that provide state allocation of resources for programs benefiting immigrants.

This project is one of ILCM’s largest, comprising approximately 19 percent of our annual caseload. Impact studies already show that DACA status yields great, longitudinal benefits for DREAMers and their communities. In a client survey of DACA recipients, ILCM found that 75 percent of clients increased their earnings after receiving DACA, their health insurance enrollment grew from six to 56 percent, and clients with a bank account increased from 38 to 63 percent.

This survey was included in a report produced by immigration expert and former University of Minnesota professor Katherine Fennelly, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and the Minneapolis Foundation. Our survey data is a small piece of the report, which explores the economic and fiscal impact of DACA on Minnesota’s communities. The report will be published and made available in 2016, and seeks to anticipate the impact of the pending Expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) Executive Action.