There has been much buzz lately about whether or not the DREAM Act will pass through Congress during the next month. With all of the debate, many are asking for the first time, What is the DREAM Act?
The short answer is that it is legislation that will provide immigration status to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States while minors. In most cases, these individuals had no choice as to whether to enter the United States and have no memory of ever living outside of the United States. In essence, many are Americans in all ways except legally.
What does the DREAM Act Stand for?
DREAM Act stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
Who does the DREAM Act help?
Currently, undocumented immigrants who are brought into the United States without documentation by their parents are unauthorized and face a life time filled with the possibility of removability from the United States. The DREAM Act would allow qualifying individuals to gain immigrant status.
Qualifying immigrants will need to have:
- Been 16 when they entered the United States.
- Been physically present in the United States for five years immediately preceding the date of enactment.
- Earned a high-school diploma or its equivalent.
- Good moral character.
- No criminal record and not be a danger to national security.
Additionally, within six years a qualifying immigrants will need to either:
- Earn at least a 2-year degree from a U.S. institution of higher education (or complete 2 years of a bachelor’s degree), or
- Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least 2 years (or be honorable discharged).
The full text of the bill can be read on the Congressional Website.
How does the DREAM Act help?
The DREAM Act will provide qualifying immigrants to gain permanent residency in the United States. Permanent Residency will be conditioned upon meeting the specific requirements of the act. Additionally, after being permanent residents for a certain amount of time, DREAM Act immigrants will be able to apply for citizenship (if otherwise qualified).
Will there be any changes to the DREAM Act legislation?
Most likely, yes. Although there is no way to know whether or not there will be any changes, it is likely that there will be some compromise if the DREAM Act reaches a stage where it is expected to pass. Most likely, these changes will revolve around the age limit for recipients, and restrictions on immigrants who are eligible.
Will the DREAM Act Pass?
That is a good question. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether or not the DREAM Act will pass through Congress. If it succeeds in being passed through Congress, President Obama will most likely sign it. However, if it hasn’t passed through Congress before the beginning of the new Congress in January, you shouldn’t expect that it will be
How new is the DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act has been around for many years. It was first introduced in 2001 and has enjoyed support by both parties at different times of its history. It has been brought to the floor for a Congressional vote many times – but has not yet succeeded in becoming law. During the summer of 2010, it was attached to the Defense Appropriations bill. It is expected that the vote for this DREAM ACT will be without any attachments – so Congress members cannot crouch their votes.