The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, is a United States legislative proposal to grant temporary conditional residency, with the right to work, to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors—and, if they later satisfy further qualifications, they would attain permanent residency. So, basically, The Dream Act would permanently safeguard individual immigrants who came to the United States as children but are susceptible to deportation.
The very first edition of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was established in the year 2001. “Over the last 20 years, at least 11 versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in Congress. While the various versions of the bill have contained some key differences, they all would have provided a pathway to legal status for undocumented people who came to this country as children. Some versions have garnered as many as 48 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and 152 in the House of Representatives. Despite bipartisan support for each iteration of the bill, none have become law. To date, the 2010 bill came closest to full passage when it passed the House but fell just five votes short of the 60 needed to proceed in the Senate.”
Over the years, the word “Dreamer” was used to refer to young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, who have lived and completed their education here and more importantly identify themselves as American. The term “Dreamer” originally took its name from the bill in Congress, but it has a double meaning about the undocumented youth who have big hopes and dreams for a better future.
The beneficiaries of the proposed DREAM Act would have to meet the following requirements to qualify:
- Under Section 3 clause (b) (1) (B), of the Act talks about inadmissibility or deportable from the United States, in order to be in Temporary Protected Status (TPS),
- Under Section 1615, Sec.3(b)(1)(B), and HR3440, Sec.3(b)(1)(B) of the Dream Act 2017, states that one needs to have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16.
- Possessing documents or any proof that states that one have lived in the United States for a minimum of five consecutive years,
- If a person (male) born after 1960’s makes it necessary to register with the Selective Service,
- One needs to be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of enactment of the Bill, in order for the law to apply on someone,
- Important requirement is to have been graduated from an American high school, been admitted to an institution of higher education.
All through the first six years, eligible people, who meet the required criteria would be accorded “conditional” status and would be mandatory to:
- Graduate from a two-year community college or,
- Complete at least two years towards a four-year degree or,
- Serve two years in the US military.
After the six-year duration, those who meet at least minimum of these three conditions would be qualified to submit an application for permanent resident status. During this six-year conditional period, they would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants but they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.
If they have met all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, they would be granted permanent residency, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens. It is not known how many of those eligible would go on to complete the further requirements. One organization estimated that only 7,000–13,000 college students nationally can fulfill the further obligations. An analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies found that over 2 million individuals could benefit under the Act.
KEY FEATURES OF THE DREAM ACT OF 2011
Path to legal residency: Who would qualify?
Under the DREAM Act, most students who came to the U.S. at age 15 or younger at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment, and who have maintained good moral character since entering the U.S. would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school, or being awarded a GED in the U.S. Students would not qualify for this relief if they had committed crimes, were a security risk, or were inadmissible or removable on certain other grounds. Under the Senate bill qualifying students must be under age 35, whereas under the House bill, they must be under age 32.
Conditional permanent resident status
The conditional permanent resident status would be similar to lawful permanent resident status, except that it would be awarded for a limited duration—six years under normal circumstances— instead of indefinitely.
Students with conditional permanent resident status would be able to work, drive, go to school, and otherwise participate normally in day-to-day activities on the same terms as other Americans, except that generally they would not be able to travel abroad for lengthy periods and they would not be eligible for Pell Grants or certain other federal financial aid grants. They would, however, be eligible for federal work-study and student loans, and states would not be restricted from providing their own financial aid to these students. Time spent by young people in conditional permanent resident status would count towards the residency requirements for naturalization.
Requirements to lift the condition and obtain regular lawful permanent resident status
At the end of the conditional period, the unrestricted lawful permanent resident status would be granted if, during the conditional period, the immigrant had maintained good moral character, avoided lengthy trips abroad, and met at least one of the following criteria:
- Graduated from a two-year college or certain vocational colleges, or studied for at least two years toward a B.A. or higher degree, or
- Served in the U.S. armed forces for at least two years.
The six-year time period for meeting these requirements would be extendable upon a showing of good cause, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be empowered to waive the requirements altogether if compelling reasons, such as disability, prevent their completion and if removal of the student would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the student or to the student’s spouse, parent, or child.
In-state tuition: Restore state option
The DREAM Act would also repeal section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), which currently discourages states from providing in-state tuition or other higher education benefits without regard to immigration status. Under section 505, states that provide a higher education benefit based on residency to undocumented immigrants must provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their state of residence.
Since section 505 became law, twelve states have enacted laws permitting anyone, including undocumented immigrants, who attended and graduated from high school in the state to pay the in-state rate at public colleges and universities. The twelve states are California, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. These states all pay the section 505 penalty by providing the same in-state discount rate to current residents of other states who previously went to high school and graduated in the state. The DREAM Act would repeal this penalty. This would not require states to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants but rather would restore this decision to the states without encumbrance.
If the Act gets ratified, it would be emphasizing a life-altering impact on those students who qualify, which will then significantly increase their average future earnings—and consequently the amount of taxes they would pay—while also meaningfully plummeting social services and criminal justice costs to taxpayers. In addition to this, one will be exposed to better opportunities and better standards of living.
 DREAM Act - Wikipedia  The Dream Act: An Overview | American Immigration Council  What is the Dream Act and Who Are the Dreamers? (adl.org)  S.729 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): DREAM Act of 2009 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress  Text of S. 1615 (115th): Dream Act of 2017 (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us  S. 729 (Introduced-in-Senate) (congress.gov)  “Dream Opportunities” article written on the Bangor Daily News. October 9th, 2007, page 6. ISSN: 0892-8738.  S. 729 (Introduced-in-Senate) (congress.gov)  Further Demographic Information Relating to theDREAM Act Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, The Urban Institute, October 21, 2003.  "DREAM Act Offers Amnesty to 2.1 Million". December 7, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2016.  DREAM Act: Summary - National Immigration Law Center (nilc.org)