DACA stands for "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." DACA was established by an executive action of President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, in response to repeated Congressional failures to pass any version of the federal DREAM Act. The President announced that his administration would no longer seek to prosecute undocumented students who otherwise met the criteria established in prior versions of the DREAM Act.
DACA therefore occupies a legal gray area, being neither a law nor a regulation, but an exercise of "prosecutorial discretion."
In September 2017, the Trump administration announced a plan to end DACA protections. The plan was deferred for 6 months to allow Congress to pass some version of the DREAM Act, which it again failed to do. Multiple lawsuits and court orders prevented DACA from being rescinded, most importantly the Supreme Court decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, issued June 19, 2020.
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden reinstated DACA by executive order.
On October 5, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2021 ruling of State of Texas v. United States that DACA violates federal law. A court-ordered stay kept existing DACA protections in place, but no new DACA applications are being accepted.
DREAM stands for "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors," the terminology used in a bill first introduced in 2001. Various versions of the bill proposed to provide in-state college tuition rates for undocumented young people who had been brought to the U.S. as children, protect them from deportation, and provide them a route to legal residency.
While several versions of this act (or similar acts) have been introduced in Congress, as of May 2022, none have passed.
Selected DREAM-related bills are listed below; this is not a comprehensive list.