|Colloquial name(s)||DREAM Act|
|Introduced on||August 1, 2001|
|Sponsored by||Dick Durbin, Orrin Hatch|
The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal for a multi-phase process for illegal immigrants in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.
The bill was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, S. 1291 by United States Senators Dick Durbin (Democratic Party) and Orrin Hatch (Republican Party), and has since been reintroduced several times (see legislative history) but has failed to pass.
Supporters argue that the Act would not create an "amnesty program" and would produce a variety of social and economic benefits, while critics contend that it would reward illegal immigration and encourage more of it, inviting fraud and shielding gang members from deportation.
Beneficiaries of the DREAM Act must meet the following requirements:
- Not have entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa
- Have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16
- Have proof of residence in the United States for at least five consecutive years since their date of arrival
- If male, have registered with the Selective Service
- Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment
- Have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED, or been admitted to an institution of higher education
- Be of good moral character
During the first six years, qualifying people would be granted "conditional" status and would be required to (a) graduate from a two-year community college or (b) complete at least two years towards a four-year degree or (c) serve two years in the US military. After this six-year period, those who meet at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply 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. A different analysis found that over 2 million individuals could benefit under the Act.
For conditional resident status
The individual must:
- have proof that they entered United States before the age of 16 and must have continuously lived in the country for at least 5 years
- have graduated from a United States high school or obtained a GED in the US.
- demonstrate good moral character
- pass a criminal background checks and reviews
After having obtained and held conditional resident status, permanent residency may be granted if the following requirements have been met in a period of six years.
For permanent residency
The individual must:
- Have attended an institution of higher learning or served in the United States military for at least two years and if discharged, have received an honorable discharge
- Pass another series of background checks
- Continue to demonstrate good moral character
If these requirements are not fulfilled the conditional resident will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation.
Members of Congress have introduced several forms of this bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members in the House passed one such bill on December 8, 2010 by a vote of 216-198; Senators debated a version of the DREAM Act on September 21, 2010. A previous version of the bill, S. 2205, which required 60 votes to gain cloture, failed on a 52-44 vote in 2007, 8 votes short of overcoming a filibuster by senators opposed to the bill.
The United States military faced challenges in enlistment, which in 2005 were described as a "crisis", though the economic downturn of 2007-2010 did away with many of the enlistment challenges. Immigrants without a United States Permanent Resident Card (also known as a green card) are not allowed to enlist. In 2007, several senior officials at the Department of Defense have spoken in favor of promising resident status to members of the military as a means of boosting recruitment.
The bill also restores the option for states to determine residency for purposes of higher education benefits by repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 (8 U.S.C. § 1623. The majority of states interpret this provision as disqualifying illegal immigrant students from certain higher education benefits such as in-state tuition rates. Some states have enacted laws aimed at making illegal state residents eligible for in-state tuition rates without violating this IIRIRA provision. However, some students paying out-of-state tuition have filed lawsuits in these states, claiming state education officials violated this federal law.
A similar version of the DREAM Act was introduced on April 25, 2001 by Representative Luis Gutiérrez, Democrat from Illinois, as the "Immigrant Children's Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001" (H.R. 1582) during the 107th Congress. This bill received 34 cosponsors, and would have allowed illegal immigrant students to first apply to be protected from deportation and then apply for and receive lawful permanent residency if they met the criteria.
One month later, on May 21, 2001, Gutiérrez's version of the bill was scrapped in favor of a more limited version entitled "Student Adjustment Act of 2001" (H.R. 1918), introduced by Representative Chris Cannon, Republican from Utah. This version of the bill lowered age eligibility to 21 years of age and garnered 62 cosponsors. On August 1, 2001 a mirror bill to the "Student Adjustment Act of 2001" was introduced in the Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch, also a Republican from Utah. This legislation, S. 1291, was the first bill given the short title of "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act" or "DREAM Act." Since that time the DREAM Act has been introduced in both the Senate and the House at various times.
The text of the bill was placed in various other immigration-related bills, including the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611) and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348). With the failure of these comprehensive reform bills, Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, made its passage a top priority for 2007. In September 2007, Durbin filed to place the DREAM Act as an amendment to the 2008 Department of Defense Authorization Bill (S. 2919). In light of the criticism, Durbin tabled the amendment in favor of a rewritten DREAM Act amendment to the Defense Bill. In consideration of their opponents, all language regarding in-state tuition was removed from the amendment and an age cap of 30 was put in place for potential beneficiaries. Military leaders embraced the bill, which included the promise of resident status to members of the military, as a means of boosting recruitment.
On October 18, 2007, Durbin, along with Republican co-sponsors Charles Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar of Indiana, introduced the DREAM Act as S. 2205. Though nearly identical to the revised amendment to the Defense Bill, opponents continued to cite previous arguments. To bring the DREAM Act up for debate, a vote was scheduled on October 24 that would require a filibuster-proof count of 60 yes votes, but that failed. Senate opponents cited a variety of reasons for their opposition. Some labeled the DREAM Act as amnesty that would encourage chain migration and further illegal immigration in anticipation of new versions of the DREAM Act. Others stated that the DREAM Act, though worthy legislation, should be enacted only as part of a comprehensive immigration reform.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who had previously stated that she would oppose consideration of the DREAM Act, announced on the Senate floor that she had expressed reservations to Durbin and he had made a verbal commitment to work with her to make changes that she saw necessary to garner greater Republican support. In response, Durbin announced that the first amendment that would be considered, should debate of the DREAM Act begin, would completely re-write the bill in favor of the language that Hutchison suggested. According to her suggestions, illegal immigrant students should be allowed to hold a temporary student visa with a renewable work permit instead of conditional permanent residency. Although 52 Senators voted in favor of considering the DREAM Act, this fell eight votes short of breaking filibuster and the legislation was not considered.
The act was re-introduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday, March 26, 2009, during the 111th Congress by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Harry Reid (D-NV), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representative Howard Berman (D-CA). To date, 128 representatives and 39 senators (not including former Senator Edward Kennedy) co-sponsored the bill. Under this version of the DREAM Act, immigrants could qualify in part, by meeting the following requirements:
- Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time the Law is enacted
- Arrived in the United States before the age of 16
- Resided continuously in the United States for at least 5 consecutive years since the date of their arrival
- Graduated from a US high school or obtained a General Education Diploma
- Good moral character
In addition to the temporary Residency, illegal immigrant students who qualified would also be entitled to apply for student loans and work study but would not be eligible for Pell grants. In certain circumstances, the person could lose temporary immigration residency if he or she did not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six-year time period or if they committed any crimes (other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors) regardless of whether or not they had already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years. If an individual were convicted of a major crime or drug-related infraction, (except for a single offense of possession of 30 g or less of marijuana) they would automatically lose the six-year temporary residence status and be immediately subject to deportation.
The 111th Congress continued to consider the DREAM Act bill throughout 2010. S. 3827, a new version of the DREAM Act, includes numerous changes to address concerns raised about the bill. The DREAM Act, along with a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2011. On September 21, 2010, the Senate filibuster of the bill was maintained in a 56–43 vote; it would have taken 60 votes to stop the filibuster and continue the progress of the bill. The following day, Durbin introduced the bill once again along with Richard Lugar. Only two senators co-sponsored the bill and it was defeated again.
Less than a month later, on November 16, President Barack Obama and top Democrats pledged to introduce the Dream Act into the House by November 29. The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act on December 8, 2010, but the bill failed to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to end debate on the Senate floor (55-41—Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment No. 3 to H.R. 5281).
On May 11, 2011 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reintroduced the DREAM Act in the Senate. Some Republicans who had supported the bill in the past, including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Jon Kyl of Arizona, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, withheld their votes, objecting that such a bill should not be granted without increasing immigration enforcement. Reid indicated that he would consider adding a workplace enforcement measure in the DREAM Act that would require every employer to use E-Verify, the government's Internet-based work eligibility verification system. President Obama supported the bill as one of his efforts to reform the US immigration system.
In July 2011, the state of California enacted the California DREAM Act, giving illegal immigrant students access to private college scholarships for state schools. In August, the state of Illinois authorized a privately funded scholarship plan for children of immigrants both legal and illegal.
On August 15, 2012, the same day that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications under the Obama administration’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order preventing the state of Arizona from issuing driver’s licenses and public benefits to young illegal immigrants who receive deferred status and work authorization under the new program. In addition to driving privileges, Governor Brewer’s order bars illegal immigrants who qualify for deferred action from receiving state-subsidized child care, health insurance, unemployment benefits, business and professional licenses, and government contracts. Thousands of individuals submitted applications for the new program. In late August 2012, ten U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued Janet Napolitano, saying the directive forces them to break the law and ignore their duties. As of January 2017, 740,000 people have registered through DACA.
Projections of economic impact
In a December 2010 report, the federal Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the November 30, 2010 version of the DREAM Act would reduce (federal) direct deficits by about $1.4 billion over the 2011-2020 period and increase federal government revenues by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years. Indirect federal costs (about 80% of the federal budget) and state and local tax impacts were not considered. However, the same report also notes that the Act "would increase projected deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one of the four consecutive 10-year periods starting in 2021" (emphasis added). A study conducted by the Center for American Progress estimates that if passed, the DREAM Act would create 1.4 million jobs by 2030. How this was to be done was not specified.
Luis Miranda, White House Director of Hispanic Media, has spoken in support of the 2010 version of the DREAM Act. He argues that passage of the Act would make the U.S. more competitive in the global economy by allowing illegal immigrants "to live up to their fullest potential and contribute to the economic growth of our country." Miranda argues that the DREAM Act would not create an "amnesty program" because it requires a "lengthy and rigorous process" to be eligible for benefits, requiring, for example, a criminal background check and proof that the applicant has not committed any crimes that would make him ineligible for residency. Miranda also argues the Act would not encourage more students to immigrate because it only applies to illegal immigrants who are already in the country. Furthermore, the Act would create a waiting period before DREAM Act applicants could sponsor green card applications for their relatives. Miranda also notes that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated that the DREAM Act would provide an expanded pool of military recruits.
A 2010 study by UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center, an advocacy and research group that focuses on "transnationalism and globalization through action research", conducting "interdisciplinary research concerning the economic integration process between the United States, Mexico and Canada", produced two estimates of the income that would be earned by illegal immigrants who would be potentially eligible for the proposed DREAM Act benefits. The first estimate is based on analysis from a study by the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, an organization seeking to "advance the economic mobility and social inclusion of immigrants in the United States", which estimated that 38% of those eligible for the DREAM Act's benefits would actually obtain legal permanent resident status. In that scenario, the NAIDC estimates that DREAM Act beneficiaries would earn $1.4 trillion over a 40-year period. On the other hand, NAIDC estimates that if all illegal immigrants eligible for DREAM Act benefits successfully met the education or military service requirements and obtained legal resident status, they would earn $3.6 trillion over the same 40-year period. How many dollars they would use of available federal, state and local resources over the 40-year period were not estimated.
Opponents of the DREAM Act argue that it encourages and rewards illegal immigration, acting as a "magnet" attracting more illegal immigrants and creating a chain migration by family members. The Center for Immigration Studies has raised concerns that it would admit individuals who have already formed their identities overseas (i.e. people who arrived up to age 16), that illegal immigrants up to age 35 are allowed to obtain legal residence through it, that it would result in massive fraud similar to the 1986 amnesty, that it will encourage additional illegal immigration, and that it will shield gang members from deportation.
Famous DREAM Act Activists
- Illegal immigration to the United States
- Undocumented youth in the United States
- Trail of Dreams 2010
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- Plyler v. Doe
- Immigration Reform
- Immigration policy
- S. 729
- DREAM Act of 2009 Sec.4 (a)(1)(A)
- "What is Good Moral Character?"
- "DREAM opportunities". Bangor Daily News. 2007-10-09. p. 6. ISSN 0892-8738. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- DREAM Act of 2009 Sec.5 (c) & (d)
- Further Demographic Information Relating to theDREAM Act, The Urban Institute, October 21, 2003.
- "DREAM Act Offers Amnesty to 2.1 Million". 7 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "House OKs bill aimed at illegal youth immigrants". 9 December 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- Wilson, Jamie (3 June 2005). "US lowers standards in army numbers crisis". Retrieved 18 December 2016 – via The Guardian.
- Jordan, Miriam. "Bill Offers U.S. Citizenship for Military Service". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- Lee, Y (2006). To dream or not to dream: a cost-benefit analysis of the development, relief, and education for alien minors (DREAM) act. 16. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. pp. 231–258.
- Feder, J. (2010). Unauthorized alien students, higher education, and in-state tuition rates: a legal analysis. RS22500. Congressional Research Service.
- Morse, A; Bimbach, K (2010). "In-State Tuition and Unauthorized Immigrant Students". National Conference of State Legislatures.
- Barnett, Pamela (2001-04-25). "GUTIERREZ TIES IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL TO EDUCATION STATUS". CongressDaily.
- Spuriell, Stephen (2007-07-10). "Death Knell for Immigration?". The Corner. National Review Online. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- Maze, Rick (2007-07-16). "Bill would grant citizenship for service". Army Times. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- Library of Congress Web Site unavailable (Library of Congress)
- Montgomery, Dave (October 23, 2007). "Senate to vote on whether to take up limited immigration bill". Knight Ridder Tribune News Service: 1. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
- DREAM Act: NILC statement on October 24 Senate vote
- Library of Congress Web Site unavailable (Library of Congress)
- Library of Congress
- "Dream Act 2013". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Senate halts 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal". CNN. September 22, 2010.
- Library of Congress
- Am; Reporter, a Terkel Senior Political; Post, The Huffington (16 November 2010). "Obama And Top Congressional Democrats Call For DREAM Act's Passage Before Year's End". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "House Passes DREAM Act Immigration Measures". Fox News. December 8, 2010.
- S. 3992
- "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 2nd Session".
- "Harry Reid reintroduces the DREAM Act". 11 May 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "DREAM Act Immigration Legislation receives support from US President". Migration Expert. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
- Sabella, Jen (August 2, 2011). "Illinois DREAM Act Signed By Governor Quinn (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post.
- Cohen, Tom (16 June 2012). "Obama administration to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants". CNN. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "Arizona Responds to Deferred Action Program by Blocking Privileges for DREAMers". The National Law Review. Greenberg Traurig, LLP. 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- "http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2012/08/ariz-gov-blasted-for-denying-illegal-aliens-licenses/". Corruption Chronicls. Judicial Watch, Inc. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012. External link in
- "Thousands of 'Dreamers' line up to apply for deferral program". NBC News. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Shannon Bream (23 August 2012). "Immigration agents file suit against Napolitano over 'amnesty' program". Fox News. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Tom Cohen (24 August 2012). "Immigration lawsuit revives DREAM Act debate". CNN. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Miami Herald: "Fortunately, Trump gives young, undocumented DREAMers a reprieve — for now" January 23, 2017
- "S. 3992, Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010". 7 December 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- Guzmán, Juan Carlos; Jara, Raul C. "The Economic Benefits of Passing the DREAM Act". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Get The Facts On The DREAM Act". 1 December 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "About the Center". http://www.migrationinformation.org. National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. External link in
- No DREAMers Left Behind, North American Integration and Development Center, University of California, Los Angeles.
- News, ABC. "What's the Real Reason Behind Central American Immigrant Wave?". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "Despite Media Mythmaking, the DREAM Act is for Adults". 27 November 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "DREAM On". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- "DREAM Act Will Shield Some Gang Members from Removal". 27 November 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2016.