This page is a resource for terms, policies, bills and other things you might read on this site or others. Useful links under each subject will be added soon. As more things come up, more will be added, so keep checking this page out.


DREAM stands for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. The DREAM Act is a bill that would create a pathway to legal residence that currently does not exist for undocumented youth in the United States. When a minor is brought into the United States by their parents, their visa is attached to their parents’ visas until the age of eighteen. When undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States turn eighteen they are suddenly placed in a legal situation impossible to remedy on their own. Even joining the military requires legal residence.

The DREAM Act would create a legal pathway by registering undocumented youth with the federal government and allow them to legalize their status by going to college or joining the military. In order to be eligible, the youth would have to have clean criminal records. After completing two years of college or two years in the military, the young person would be eligible to apply for Legal Permanent Residence.


The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was the last major overhaul of immigration laws in the United States. The bill created automatic bans of three years, ten years and life for immigrants who remain in the country without visas for certain amounts of time. The only way not to be banned is to receive a pardon. Someone who has been in the country for more than 180 days cannot apply to return for three years; someone who is here for more than 365 days cannot apply to return for ten years. IIRIRA 96 also allows local law enforcement agencies and the federal government to make agreements to expand the power of local police to enforce immigration law.


ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. ITINs are 9-digit numbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service which look and are used in a way nearly identical to Social Security Numbers. The IRS began issuing ITINs in 1996 and have issued more than 11 million of them since. Through ITINs, undocumented immigrants have contributed billions in income tax revenue to state and federal governments, as well as billions of dollars every year to Social Security which will never be paid back to them. ITINs are kept valid through annual filing.

Secure Communities

Secure Communities is a program similar to 287(g) that involves agreements between local law enforcement and ICE. Secure Communities, sometimes called SeCom or S-Comm, also uses biometric records (like fingerprints) and databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. The program is promoted by USCIS as a way to prioritize the deportation of violent criminals who are in the country without current visas, but both SeCom and 287(g) have been used widely by local officials in the Southeast to deport every single undocumented immigrant that comes in contact with law enforcement, even if they have no criminal record or charged with any other crime.

Recently, a lawsuit brought forward under the Freedom of Information Act revealed how local law enforcement had been intentionally misled by DHS into thinking that the program was mandatory. Read more on that case here.


287(g) is a program that allows local law enforcement to make an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in which the local officers are allowed to enforce federal immigration law. Anyone suspected of being in the country without a current visa can be detained, turned over to ICE and subsequently deported. In 2009, ICE reviewed and reformed the 287(g) program to meet a new goal of “prioritizing the arrest and detention of criminal aliens.” Whether or not it has done so remains in doubt. ICE currently has 71 active agreements in 26 states. Its name comes from the provision of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA 96) which authorizes the partnerships.

Budget info for 287(g):

FY 2006 - $5 million
FY 2007 - $15 million (5.4 million plus an additional $10.09 million as the result of a supplemental appropriation.)
FY 2008 - $42.1 million
FY 2009 - $54 million
FY 2010 - $68 million