The term “DREAMer” refers to those who would be protected under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), a bill in Congress that has been proposed in order to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. It has been proposed numerous times over sixteen years but has never passed to become law. The first version was introduced in 2001 and young undocumented immigrants have since been called DREAMers.
That demographic, the DREAMers, gained protection under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order in 2012. The program to protect youth from deportation was ended by President Trump in 2017. Several lawsuits have been filed and it is unclear what future court rulings will mean for DACA.
Currently, anyone who has ever had DACA status can apply to renew, though the U.S. government is not accepting any new applications. Additionally, those who currently have DACA are not guaranteed reentry if they leave the country.
Recipients may become eligible for a work permit, social security number and driver’s license. However, the program does not provide permanent lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.
Most of the people protected by DACA were born in Mexico (558,050), El Salvador (26,520), Guatemala (18,140) or Honduras (16,660). There are 7,070 active DACA recipients residing in Wisconsin as of August 2018.
Immigrants come to Wisconsin from all over the world for different reasons and bring with them a wide range of education and experiences. Today, over 280,000 of Wisconsin’s 5.84 million residents are immigrants. They have come here from more than 113 different countries and are employed in many job sectors in the state.
Nearly 3 out of 10 adult immigrants who have settled in Wisconsin have a college degree or more, a proportion similar to that of native-born Wisconsinites. On the other hand, immigrants are more likely than the U.S. born population to have less than a high school diploma (25% vs 7%).
In total, immigrants account for about 6% of the labor force in Wisconsin. They often work in jobs where there is a growing need for workers, including in manufacturing and agriculture. As of 2015, 7.2% of the manufacturing workforce and 11.2% of ‘Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting’ workforce was immigrants.