On August 7 the DREAM Scheme grew larger than previously expected, and secured for itself a new set of "user-friendly" initials: DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Announcing the newly expanded size of the program, and the new initials, was not the government, but the administration's consistent immigration ally, the well-funded, Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.
At a (rather dignified) pep-rally type of event, MPI pulled together USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and some longtime immigration policy experts to discuss the ways and means of implementing the deferred action amnesty program for what are now termed "childhood arrivals", i.e., those under the age of 31 who are currently in illegal status and who claim that they arrived illegally before the age of 16.
Earlier that morning MPI issued a press release and a study saying that MPI has lifted its estimate of eligibles for the program from about 1.4 million to about 1.75 million.
Why had it done that? Because of the loosening of the rules for the DREAM Scheme that we discussed in a blog a few days ago. The key change was that no matter if an applicant has never been inside a schoolroom in his or her life, he or she can qualify as a "student" and thus have the right to work in the United States if he or she enrolls in an educational institution immediately prior to applying for the DREAM Scheme benefit.
According to the MPI statisticians, that decision opened the doors to the program still wider, by 350,000 potential eligibles.
No one at the gathering asked what this development would do to the school systems or suggested that giving a de facto amnesty to this lightly educated part of the population would further lower the average educational level of the American work force. No, the questions were related to pressing USCIS to make its processes still easier for the applicants.
The new initials were announced by Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at MPI, who presided at the session. She was the INS Commissioner during the Clinton administration.
DACA must have been inspired by the initials of the last big legalization, IRCA, which stands for Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. My own reaction to DACA is that such initials are inevitable and this is at least pronounceable; on the other hand it reminded me of Dhaka (formerly spelled Dacca), the capital of Bangladesh, probably the most poverty-stricken major city in the world.