We don’t know very much yet about how the new Obama program for Dreamers will work, so my assessment of risks and benefits is subject to change, but here is what I think based on the best available information.
The main benefits of applying are the renewable legal status and work authorization the successful applicant will receive. With these, the Dreamer can not only stay and work here legally, he or she can also apply for a drivers license and take planes and trains to travel within the US. The person granted status can also obtain a Social Security card, making it easier to set up a bank account and apply for credit, or to set up a small business.
It is possible that Homeland Security will allow people granted legal status to travel outside the US, but we will probably not get guidance on this until August.
The risks of applying include a lack of certainty about who will be approved and who will not. This is a new program and we don’t know if 90 percent will be approved or only 10 percent. Homeland Security says that people who are denied will not have deportation proceedings begun against them unless they were denied for criminal or fraud grounds.
Another risk is that there is no guarantee the DREAM program will outlive the Obama presidency. A new president might end the program after two years, leaving the Department of Homeland Security with a lot of information on a lot of immigrants.
These risks will only be eliminated when the full DREAM Act is passed.
I’ll be offering a workshop on the new program for Dreamers tonight, June 19, at 6:30pm at CARECEN’s Brentwood office (2000 Brentwood Road) On Wednesday, June 20, I’ll give the same workshop at our Hempstead office (91 N. Franklin Street, Suite 208).
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Image courtesy of j valas images via Flickr.