What are the “DREAMers” Created by the Dream Act?

What are the “DREAMers” Created by the Dream Act?

The DREAM act has been the subject of much debate and controversy over the better part of the last decade and a half. It was first introduced to Congress by Illinois representative Luis Gutiérrez in 2001, and has continued to float around both chambers and committees since then. The DREAM in DREAM act stands for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors”. It is designed as a kind of compromise version of more comprehensive immigration reform initiatives. Instead of providing a blanket solution, it attempts to address the concerns of immigrant minors who are living in the United States without citizenship status through no fault of their own.

Therefore, a “DREAMer” is one such person. A minor – or a person who was a minor when they entered the country without documentation – that is currently residing in the United States and has yet to be naturalized. Of course, as far as the law is concerned, there are more than a few caveats that have been attached to such a broad distinction. These caveats are in place, in large part, as the result of the intense amount of debate and controversy that has surrounded this issue for some time.

The Specific Distinctions of a “DREAMer”

In an article entitled “Who and Where the DREAMers Are, Revised Estimates” the Immigration Policy Center offers some insight. According to the current version of the DREAM act, a DREAMer is a person who:

  • Is between the ages of 15 and 30
  • Was under the age of 16 when they entered the country
  • Has lived in the U.S. continuously for 5 or more years
  • Is in school, has achieved a high school diploma or GED, or has enrolled or is enrolled in higher education
  • Has no felonies or significant misdemeanors on their record

According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are currently 1.8 million people who meet this criteria, and are covered by the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative. Of that 1.8 million, nearly one quarter are currently ineligible to apply for the deferred action initiative, because they have not yet reached the age of 15. They will, however, be able to apply for the initiative provided that it continues to be in operation when they come of age. This, of course, is not a certain thing, as the political winds are always shifting within the United States.

What are the Demographics of the “DREAMers”?

According to the article by the Immigration Policy Center, 75% of the potential beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s deferred action initiative are from Mexico, with an additional 14% being comprised of peoples from other locations in North and Central America. The remaining 11% is made up of peoples from Asia, South America, Europe and other regions.

Of the 1.8 million potential beneficiaries of the initiative, California is currently home to the most, with nearly 539,774 DREAMers. The second and third largest population of DREAMers can be found in Texas and Florida respectively, with 398,133 and 106,481. The state with the fewest potential beneficiaries of the initiative is Montana with 108.

Of all of the potential beneficiaries, 54% are male and 46% are female. Of all the states, Arizona has the highest percentage of potential female beneficiaries of the initiative at 49%.

All told, there are a staggering number of people who could potentially benefit from the Obama administration’s initiative. At present, the Immigration Policy Center estimates that there are nearly 1 million people who could benefit from the initiative immediately. The effects of this, then, would be particularly acute in regions of the country with a higher percentage of potential DREAMers, like California, Texas and Arizona.