Fact Check


The Dream Act grants amnesty to all illegal aliens residing in the United States if they agree to enlist in the U.S. military or enter college?

Published Jul 6, 2012


Claim:   Implementation of Dream Act guidelines will grant amnesty to illegal aliens residing in the United States if they agree to enlist in the U.S. military or enter college.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2011]

Obama Dictates: AMNESTY NOW!

With the Stroke of a Pen Barack Obama Has Granted Amnesty to Virtually All Illegal Aliens

Dear Fellow Patriots,

This is the most important, and troubling, email I have ever been forced to write.

What I am about to tell you is unthinkable. It is also 100% true. (Check news reports online to see for yourself!)

Last Friday, with no fanfare, no press coverage, and with every effort made to hide his actions from the American people...

Barack Obama enacted the nightmarish DREAM Act!

Opposed by a majority of the American people and TWICE defeated in Congress, the DREAM Act grants amnesty to Illegal Aliens criminally residing in the United States if they agree to enlist in the U.S. military or enter college.


The Obama administration memo from the John Morton, Director of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directs I.C.E. agents now to use "prosecutorial discretion" with regard to enforcing immigration laws.

Writes Director Morton of the new Obama Administration policy not to enforce immigration laws: "When ICE favorably exercises prosecutorial

discretion, it essentially decides not to assert the full scope of the enforcement authority available to the agency."

You read that right: according to the Obama administration; "favorable" enforcement is NOT enforcing the law!

According to one of the first press reports to break this important story, the new Obama policy is cut and dry: "federal immigration officials do not have to deport illegal aliens if they are enrolled in any type of education program, if their family members have volunteered for U.S. military service, or even if they are pregnant or nursing."


Does Barack Obama expect us to stand idly by and watch him grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens — AGAINST the rule of law, AGAINST recent votes of Congress, and AGAINST the express wishes of the American people?

This is the most important message I've ever sent! We must unite today! We must speak with one voice!

Barack Obama cannot be allowed to think that his actions will be allowed to go unchallenged. Whether through public pressure, through Congress, or through legal action in America’s courts we will not let this unprecedented, un-American act stand!


Origins:   The "DREAM" in the DREAM Act of 2011 stands for "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors." The proposed bill does not, as implied above, simply and automatically grant amnesty to all illegal aliens "residing in the United States if they agree to enlist in the U.S. military or enter college" — it allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the deportation of aliens and admit them to the U.S. for permanent residence on a conditional basis provided that they:

  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. for five years.

  • Were 15 years of age or younger when they initially entered the United States and are currently 35 years of age or younger.

  • Have been persons of good moral character since initially entering the United States.

  • Have not ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

  • Have not been convicted of any offense under Federal or State law punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than 1 year; or 3 or more offenses under Federal or State law, for which the alien was convicted on different dates for each of the 3 offenses and imprisoned for an aggregate of 90 days or more.

  • Have been admitted to an institution of higher education in the United States or have earned a high school diploma or obtained a general education development certificate in the United States.

The Secretary of Homeland Security may later remove the conditional basis of the permanent residency status so granted to any alien provided that:

  • The alien has been a person of good moral character during the entire period of conditional permanent resident status.

  • The alien has not abandoned residence in the United States.

  • The alien has acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States (or has completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor's degree or higher degree in the United States) or has served in the Uniformed Services for at least 2 years (and, if discharged, received an honorable discharge).

The DREAM Act also has not, as claimed above, been enacted by the Obama Administration. It was introduced to the Senate by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois in May 2011 and was referred to a judiciary subcommittee on 28 June 2011. A similar bill was introduced to the House by Rep. Howard Berman of California and has likewise been referred to a judiciary subcommittee. Neither bill has
even been voted upon, much less passed and enacted.

Although the DREAM Act has not been passed by Congress, in August 2011 the Obama administration announced it would begin using prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases along guidelines similar to those outlined in that proposed legislation:

The Obama administration announced that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety.

The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.

White House and immigration officials said they would exercise "prosecutorial discretion" to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws.

Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.

The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that "these young people should not be punished for their parents' mistakes."

Mr. Durbin said he believed the new policy would stop the deportation of most people who would qualify for relief under his bill, known as the Dream Act (formally the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act).

In June 2012, President Obama announced a policy allowing non-legal residents who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for renewable two-year deferrals protecting them from deportation proceedings:

The Obama administration issued a politically charged executive order that will make about 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children safe from deportation proceedings, and may make them eligible for work permits.

The policy was announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"Effective immediately, young people who were brought to the US through no fault of their own as children and who meet certain criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of 2 years and that period will be subject to renewal," she said.

Under the executive order, individuals need to be at least sixteen years old and no older than thirty to be eligible for the deferred action policy. They need to have been brought to the United States before they turned sixteen and need to have resided in the country for at least five continuous years before their application. They also need to be currently in school, or to have graduated from high school or gotten a G.E.D., or have been honorably discharged from the military.

Individuals will be ineligible if they have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or multiple minor misdemeanors, or pose some other threat to national security.

Officials described the order as an act of prosecutorial discretion that will help the federal government focus on higher priority immigration cases.

"This is not immunity, it is not amnesty, it is an exercise of discretion," said Napolitano.

Individuals not already undergoing deportation proceedings can voluntarily come forward to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to which they must provide documentation showing that they meet the required criteria for deferred action. People already undergoing deportation proceedings need to present their documentation to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

After receiving a grant of deferred action, people can apply to USCIS for work authorizations, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

After two years, people who received a grant of deferred action can reapply through USCIS. People under age sixteen will be able to "age in" to the program, provided a future administration does not institute a new policy in the meantime. Administration officials said anyone who receives deferred action will be safe from prosecution for two years, no matter what.

Last updated:   15 June 2012


    Loria, Kevin.   "DREAM Act Stalled, Obama Halts Deportations for Young Illegal Immigrants."

    The Christian Science Monitor.   15 June 2012.

    Pear, Robert.   "Fewer Youths to Be Deported in New Policy."

    The New York Times.   18 August 2011.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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