Immigration Terms and Laws
Immigration & Nationality Act (INA): Created in 1952, the INA is the basic body of immigration law in the U.S.
Immigration Reform and Control Act - Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, it legalized undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt; candidates were required to prove that they were not guilty of crimes, and that they possessed minimal knowledge about U.S. history, government, and the English language. This law also required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, made it illegal to hire or recruit undocumented immigrants knowingly, legalized certain seasonal agricultural undocumented immigrants. At the time, it was estimated that about four million undocumented immigrants would apply for legal status through the act and that roughly half of them would be eligible.
DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
DACA is a discretionary, stopgap remedy that provides a stay of deportation from the U.S. for a period of three years (with the possibility of renewal) and an employment document that allows beneficiaries to work legally in the U.S. It does not provide a pathway to U.S. legal residency. DACA is an executive action of the Obama administration and could be discontinued by a future executive branch or replaced by more restrictive legislation in Congress. If the DACA program ends, there is no guarantee that the information submitted to the U.S. government will not be used for deportation in the future.
Dream Act - Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The DREAM Act is a proposed law that would give conditional permanent residence and all of its benefits to qualifying young immigrants. It addresses the young people who grew up in the U.S. and have graduated from our high schools, but whose future is circumscribed by our current immigration laws. Under current law, these young people generally derive their immigration status solely from their parents, and if their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most have no mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives in the U.S. The DREAM Act would provide such a mechanism for those who are able to meet certain conditions. It permits these students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent legal status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military; and would eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status. If enacted, the DREAM Act would have a life-changing impact on the students who qualify. The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act in December 2010, but the bill was never voted on by the Senate.