The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors or DREAM Act has been proposed in federal and California state legislatures. The goal of the DREAM act has been to increase higher education opportunities for undocumented students. Students must meet the following criteria:
- Arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16
- Have lived in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years,
- Graduated from a high school or obtained a GED,
- And demonstrated good moral character.
Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed the Illinois DREAM act into state law on August 1, 2011.
What does the Illinois dream act do?
- It allows anyone with an individual taxpayer identification number, including undocumented students, to participate in the State Treasurer's College Savings Pool and the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan. These programs allow families of DREAM youths to plan ahead and invest and save for their children's college education.
- High School college counselors are required to be trained and prepared to know what college options are available for undocumented students and children of immigrants. This requirement will ensure that undocumented students will receive correct information about opportunities available to them after high school. Training will be incorporated into existing counselor training sessions.
- It requires the Illinois Assistance Commission to establish an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission administered by volunteers of the state, who are appointed by Governor Quinn. The Illinois DREAM Fund Commission will establish scholarships for qualified undocumented students. The scholarships will be funded entirely by private donations and contributions.
What doesn't the Illinois dream act do?
- It does NOT offer legal permanent status.
- It is NOT a path towards citizenship.
- It does NOT allow students to legally work in their field upon graduation.
A student must:
- Have resided with parents or guardians while attending high school in Illinois,
- Have attended a high school in Illinois for at least 3 years up to the time of graduation or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma (such as GED),
- Have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Created by memorandum on June 15, 2012 and implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, DACA directs the use of prosecutorial discretion towards qualifying individuals who illegally immigrated to the United States as children. Deferred action means to defer removal of these individuals from the United States. Qualifying individuals will be granted deferred action for two years, subject to renewal, and be eligible for work authorization. However, deferred action does not give the applicant lawful immigration status nor provide a path to citizenship.
Individuals may be eligible for DACA if:
- They arrived in the United States before turning 16 years old;
- They were under 31 years old on June 15, 2012;
- They were physically present on June 15, 2012 (the day this directive went into effect) and on the day that they submit their application to USCIS;
- They have continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 through the present;
- They entered the United States without inspection before June 15, 2012 or their lawful immigration status expired before June 15, 2012;
- They are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a high school equivalency certificate (GED) or have been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces or the Coast Guard; and
- They have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors and they do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Temporary driver's license
On January 27, 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary driver's licenses. Under the law undocumented immigrants who cannot obtain temporary driver's licenses may apply as long as they meet the following requirements:
- Have lived in Illinois for a year
- Apply at a designated facility
- Pass vision, written and road examinations
- Carry auto insurance
- Have proof of insurance
- Pay a fee
The temporary driver's license is valid for driving only and may not be used as identification. The license is valid for a period of three years.
Legal tips for undocumented non-citizen students
Time is of essence when a student has been detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) or arrested.
If you are stopped by the Police:
- Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions.
- Do not argue with the officer.
- Do not run. Do not touch the officer.
- Do not resist even if you believe that you are wrongfully stopped.
- Do not sign anything giving up your rights.
- Do not falsely claim U.S. citizenship.
- Do not carry false documents.
- Do not sign any documents without first speaking with a lawyer.
- Remember that once a conversation with a police officer is terminated, the officer must either arrest you or let you go.
- Ask for a lawyer immediately after you are arrested.
- Undocumented persons should remain silent or tell the ICE agent that they want to remain silent.
Assert your rights. If you do not demand your rights or if you sign papers waiving your rights, the DHS may deport you before you see a lawyer or an immigration judge.
Talk to a lawyer. If possible, carry with you the name and telephone number of an immigration attorney who will take your calls.
The immigration laws are complicated. There may be options for you that immigration officers will not explain to you. You do not have the right to a governmental appointed lawyer for an immigration proceeding, but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low-cost legal service providers.