Dreamers: Filled With Worry, Hope, and Resilience

Published date01 October 2020
Date01 October 2020
Throughout their lives in the United States, Dreamers have experienced
a rollercoaster of emotions: they have worried about their immigration
status, hoped that Congress will enact a permanent solution, and resil-
iently fought against the Trump administration’s attempts to terminate
the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (“DACA”) program.
Unfortunately, Dreamers will continue to experience this rollercoaster
of emotions until the government issues a permanent solution for
In 2012, then-President Barack Obama created the DACA program. This
program protects eligible undocumented individuals
(also known as Dreamers)
from deportation by providing them with temporary legal status.
the program grants Dreamers various benefits, including eligibility for work au-
thorization, and a state-issued identification.
Due to its various protections and
benefits, DACA’s enactment relieved Dreamers of their fears of being deported
from the place they call home.
Nonetheless, Dreamers’ fears and doubts
* Maria Fernanda Pimienta, J.D. Candidate, 2021, Georgetown University Law Center; B.A.
Political Science, summa cum laude, 2018, Texas A&M University. © 2021, Maria Fernanda Pimienta.
1. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a program created by President Barack Obama’s
administration in 2012. The program grants those that are eligible with relief from deportation but does
not grant permanent legal status or amnesty.
2. To be eligible for DACA, you must meet the following criteria: (a) have come to the United States
before your sixteenth birthday; (b) have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; (c) have been
present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and on every day since August 15, 2012; (d) not have a lawful immi-
gration status on June 15, 2012. To meet requirement (d), (1) you must have entered the U.S. without
papers before June 15, 2012, or, if you entered lawfully, your lawful immigration status must have expired
before June 15, 2012; and (2) you must not have a lawful immigration status at the time you apply for
DACA. You must also (e) be at least fifteen years old at the time you apply for DACA. If you are currently
in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order, and are not in
immigration detention, you may apply for DACA even if you are not yet fifteen years old; but you (f)
must be in school; (g) must not have been convicted of a felony offense. A felony is a federal, state, or
local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. You also (h) must not
have been convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses. See
below for more information about offenses that may disqualify you. Finally, you must (i) not pose a threat
to national security or public safety. DHS has not defined precisely what these terms mean but has indi-
cated that they include gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities
that threaten the U.S. See Frequently Asked Questions The Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for
Childhood, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER 2-3 (2016), https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/
3. Ilana Etkin Greenstein, DACA, Dreamers, and the Limits of Prosecutorial Discretion: DHS v.
Regents of the University of California, 64 #3 BOSTON BAR J. 11 (2020).
4. Id.
5. Id.

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