As a March 5 deadline approaches that could see deportations, Democrats are intensifying efforts to finally pass a bill to protect DACA recipients about 16 years after the DREAM Act first introduced.
The DREAM Act, the precursor to what became DACA under former President Barack Obama, was first introduced in 2001. The bill is similar to DACA in that it would protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States from a young age from deportation.
The primary difference between DACA and the DREAM Act is that the DREAM Act offers a pathway to citizenship, whereas DACA simply defers deportation in a renewable manner.
Another key difference is that DACA was imposed through an executive order signed by Obama, which President Donald Trump's administration announced it would rescind by March 5. If the DREAM Act is finally passed in U.S. Congress after so many years of failed attempts, it could be signed into law.
The DREAM Act nearly passed in 2010 but failed to reach the 60 votes needed to pass a Senate filibuster. Two years later, Obama issued the executive order – to the ire of Republicans.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision further complicated matters as it did not rule whether DACA was constitutional in 2016.
The Trump administration has repeatedly said it hopes to reach a DACA deal prior to the deadline to prevent the deportation of recipients. However, as March 5 approaches and it seems Congress is unlikely to set aside partisanship for negotiations – particularly after a government shutdown – it is not clear where the Dreamers who live throughout the United States will be located in the months to come.
About 4 percent of DACA recipients live in Florida. California has the most with 28 percent, followed by Texas with 16 percent.