"Dreamers" (the name is taken from bill that never was passed during the Obama administration) are people unlawfully present in the United States and who are here because they came into this country as children. The Obama administration established a program known as "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" or "DACA," that is allowed many dreamers who do not have serious criminal records to remain in the United States and to have the right to work, free of immediate threat of being put into removal proceedings because they applied to the benefit.
In a latebreaking development, The Huffington Post is reporting that there is emerging bipartisan support in the Congress for a bill to effectively maintain the work permits and deportation (removal) reprieves created by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President-Elect Trump has promised to destroy. Proposed legislation is called "The Bridge Act," and while it will not grant "Dreamers" legal status here, it apparently will allow them to maintain work authorizations in a new “provisional protected presence” status that would last for three years from the time the bill was enacted. It would also bar the government from using information collected for DACA for other purposes ― such as deportation ― with some exceptions for national security or non-immigration criminal investigations.
If enacted, this new legislation could also provide "dreamers" with an indirect path to legal status should they marry American citizens, providing that one provision of the current DACA regimen is preserved.. Under the current DACA regulations, dreamers can travel overseas to their home countries for substantial reasons such as family emergencies including serious medical illnesses affecting relatives. Before doing so they have to prove the substantial reasons in document called an I-131, Application for Advance Parole. An Advance Parole document entitles the holder to return to the United States, and to be allowed and unless there is some other significant reason they should not be allowed to return (fraud or crimes). Once allowed back into the United States, the DACA applicant will be considered a "parolee" and such a status will allow them to "adjust status" based on a bona fide marriage to a US citizen.
I have long since given up predicting anything positive in the way of "comprehensive immigration reform" out of Congress. However, the DACA program has considerable merit and, more importantly, I believe that eliminating it without a substitute will be bad domestic politics. Thus, I am cautiously hopeful that we will see some relief for "Dreamers" even from this new Republican administration.
Brian D. O'Neill Attorney at Law, LLC
Immigration, Employment and Business Law