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Deferred Action State Benefits for DREAMers

It is almost impossible not to have a basic knowledge of Deferred Action with how prominent it has been in the media. President Obama announced the new policy on June 15, granting certain young, undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for Deferred Action, which would allow them to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for up to two years.

Applicants that are approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) can also apply for a work permit. Other benefits, such as in-state tuition and driver’s licenses, will be decided on a state-by-state basis.

Illinois

Illinois is the home state to Senator Durbin who was the first member of Congress to advocate for the DREAM Act. Currently, the state offers in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel stated in an interview that he wanted to make Chicago “the most immigrant-friendly city in the country.

Arizona

Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order of her own that cancelled out President Obama’s, stating that Deferred Action eligible youth would receive no benefits from the state of Arizona. Infamous for its harsh immigration laws, Arizona was the first state to sign legislation in opposition to President Obama’s executive order.

Maryland

Baltimore is opening its doors to undocumented immigrants as a way to increase its dying population. In general, Baltimore supports the “Maryland Dream Act” which would allow any student who has graduated from a Maryland high school in-state tuition as long as that student’s parents have paid taxes to the state government. Officials have been prohibited from inquiring about immigration status.

Texas

Like many states that oppose DACA, Texas has announced that the policy does not change state or Federal laws regarding undocumented immigrants. They will still be unable to apply for a driver’s license if they cannot prove legal status and will continue to be unqualified for Texas’ state benefits. Texan governor Rick Perry called President Obama’s Deferred Action policy “a slap in the face to the rule of law” when he announced his opposition a week following the President’s announcement. However, Texas does allow in-state tuition to certain undocumented college students.

California

The California state government is working hard to become as immigrant friendly as possible. They hope to become a haven for undocumented immigrants who follow specific guidelines from the state, which include paying state income taxes. The state wants to provide undocumented immigrants with driver’s licenses and grants them in-state college tuition.

Mississippi

Mississippi’s governor Phil Bryant signed an executive order in response to President Obama’s as well. A reinforcement of Mississippi’s current state laws regarding immigration, Gov. Bryant’s executive order reminds Mississippi state agencies that they are prohibited from providing benefits to undocumented immigrants.

Nebraska

While Nebraska did pass legislation in April that provides prenatal care to pregnant, undocumented immigrants, it is on the list of states that is in opposition to President Obama’s DACA. The prenatal care law was passed despite Nebraskan governor Dave Heineman’s veto, with lawmakers stating that prenatal care “ which prevents birth complications and developmental issues “ costs less that the potential health problems. However, Gov. Heineman followed President Obama’s announcement with his own, saying that undocumented immigrants would not be granted benefits that they do not already have under Nebraska law.

Massachusetts

Hampshire University in Massachusetts announced a new undocumented immigrant scholarship, which will pay for one undocumented student’s tuition every four years. The state has not made any other large announcements regarding its position on DACA benefits.

While many states will not decide on their position regarding state benefits for DREAMers until the first applications have been approved or denied, these states have made their stance clear.

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Find out if you qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.