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Apply for DACA or wait for DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform

After the reelection of President Barack Obama and his promise to push through DREAM Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform, several people have written to ask if they should still apply for DACA or just go through the process only once by taking advantage of DREAM Act or CIR, whichever works for them.  Like anything else in immigration matters, each situation is different and you need to make up on your own mind depending on your situation, but here are a few thoughts to consider:


  1. DACA does not legalize your status but does give you immediate relief from deportation along with a permit to work for two years, and if you behave during this time, you will be able to renew it.  You are still an illegal immigrant in the United States and do not have the privileges and rights that legal immigrants have.
  2. Chances are also high that as an illegal immigrant you are also engaged in other unlawful activities like working without authorization and/or using a fake Social Security number or stealing someone's identity.  In addition, you are accruing unlawful status.
  3. DREAM Act and/or CIR are merely political speech at this point.  Granted that President Obama and Democrats are committed to them, but the House of Representatives is still controlled by GOP and Democrats do not have filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  While Republicans have shown some inclination to push immigration relief to undocumented immigrants, the degree to which Congress is dysfunctional and gridlock in Washington is widespread, that until the laws are signed by the President, nothing can be taken for granted.  A crazy groups of Tea Party members of Congress or just one Republican senator can jeopardize passage of any bill.
  4. DACA is a very liberal program in the sense that the paperwork is simple and any gray areas in your background, like working without papers, are being ignored at this time.  Taking advantage of this program allows you some time to plan for your future.
  5. While no one really knows what the final form of DREAM Act will be like and how CIR will work, but it would not be surprising that some requirements of the law may make you ineligible.  In that case, having a DACA approval, you will have about two years to transition to a new life in your native country (it is clear that if DREAM Act and/or CIR are made into law, it will become even more difficult for illegal immigrants to live and work in the US and they will have no choice but to leave the country).  Most analysts expect that after the laws are put in place, DACA will be discontinued (but most likely the approvals will be honored till their date of expiration).