What is the DREAM Act?
The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, also called the DREAM Act, is a legislation to help those individuals who meet certain requirements, have an opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college and have a path to citizenship which they otherwise would not have without this legislation. Supporters of the DREAM Act believe it is vital not only to the people who would benefit from it, but also the United States as a whole. It would give an opportunity to undocumented immigrant students who have been living in the U.S. since they were young, a chance to contribute back to the country that has given so much to them and a chance to utilize their hard earned education and talents.
Important dates in the dream act:
- 2001- The DREAM Act is introduced for the first time to the 107th congress as H.R. 1918 and S.1291 in the House of Representatives and Senate respectively
- 2002-2006- The replubican party had control of congress, an due to their big opposition to the legislation, the bill was turned down every time it was introduced.
- 2010-The latest version of the bill was introduced On December, 2010, when the DREAM Act was brought up and passed in the House by a vote of 216-198 (H.R. 5281). However, when it reached the Senate on December 18, 2010, it fell five votes short of cloture, receiving 55 yeas and 41 nays.
Who would quialify?
- Must have entered the United States before the age of 16
- Must have been present in the United States for at least five consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill
- Must have graduated from a United States high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education (college/university)
- Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application
- Must have good moral character
The DREAM Act
Higher Education is a fundamental right which every person should obtain and engage in; however, some believe that right should only be given to legal citizens in theUnited States. The DREAM act is a legislative proposal first introduced to the senate in 2001, which would allow current, former, and future undocumented high-school graduates a pathway toU.S.citizenship through college or the armed services.
Despite the great opportunities the DREAM Act poses economically, as well as the opportunities it would give to many undocumented students, we cannot ignore the current immigration laws contradicted by this act. Thus it is uncertain to where it intends to guarantee that people are only here for education. Even so, the greater concern is whether this act will serve as a solution for millions of undocumented youth or a tactic for military recruitment.
To date, the DREAM Act is nothing more than a dream to the estimated 70,000 undocumented high school students, who graduate each year and wish to accomplish their goals through higher education. Some of these students manage to be at the top of their classes yet; they can’t even have a legal job, attend college or even join the military. In September 2001, when the Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, otherwise known as the DREAM Act (H.R 1918) (S.1291) in the House of Representatives and Senate respectively was introduced it consisted of 18 co-sponsors and despite its failure in congress, the bill evolved into a key immigration policy that gained countless supporters. To date there are over 45 co-sponsors in the senate, and 152 in the House of Representatives.
From 2001 to 2006, congress was controlled by the Republicans and because of that; the bill was never passed due to the lack of support from Republican Party itself. In spite of everything in 2007 when the Democratic Party took control over congress and the bill was re-introduced to the 110th congress by Sen Richard Durbin (IL) and Representative Howard Berman (CA) it was rejected yet again.
The latest version of the bill was introduced On December, 2010, when the DREAM Act was brought up and passed in the House by a vote of 216-198 (H.R. 5281). However, when it reached the Senate on December 18, 2010, it fell five votes short of cloture, receiving 55 yeas and 41 nays.
Even though this legislature would be very beneficial, it is important for people to know the exact conditions that would make a person eligible for the DREAM Act, and to what extent would it benefit the people. According actual document (H.R 1725) The American Dream Act from the 2010 version, an individual eligible in this law, would only qualify as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). This means that the person has to meet certain requirements. In order to qualify, the individual has to be physically present in the United States for at least five years and were younger than 16 when they first entered the country. This LPR status would be granted on a conditional basis and valid for six years, during which time the student would be allowed to work, go to school, or join the military. The conditional status would be removed and the person granted LPR status after six years once the student has either completed two years in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree or has served in the uniformed services for at least two years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge. After the six year period has passed, and the individual has met all the necessary requirements, then he is eligible to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
Many argue that the act however, is a military tactic because out of the 70,000 undocumented students the vast majority of them are not going to have the English level required to gain access into a higher education institution. The military has an answer for that. The military has a language institute. In addition, if you are eligible in the DREAM act and have applied to the DREAM Act, the undocumented students does not qualify to get Pell Grants or to get any kind of federal-based scholarships, only loans and work, which in some cases would not sufficient to cover tuition.
The part where most people are concerned, and guide them to believe it is a military tactic is that The DREAM Act does not include anything on financial stability, anything on healthcare, anything on housing, whereas the military has all of these things, and if you join you will be provided with all of those benefits. Ultimately the two-year option to serve in the military is also not a two-year option, because any military contract is eight years, and so it contradicts what the DREAM Act is trying to achieve.
Economically, the DREAM Act is a legislation that promises millions in tax revenue, jobs and potential generation of doctors, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
There are an estimated 2.1 million undocumented children and young adults in theUnited States who might be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act. If the legislation were to be passed, not only would it help millions live out to their full potential, but make greater contributions to theU.S. economy and society.
To further discuss the importance of the promising policy, it is crucial to recognize all the benefits it would have throughout the country. The DREAM Act would allow legalized immigrants to invest in the U.S economy by opening new businesses or buying houses. The DREAM Act would produce opportunities in continued education, as it is proven that many are discourage to apply to college because of their illegal status. The DREAM Act would provide better jobs, which in turn means more taxable income. In a 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center estimates that the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion. Additionally the DREAM Act would likely reduce the drop-out rate, and more importantly the DREAM Act would keep talented students in the United States.
The predicament in the DREAM Act captures the many aspects of today’s immigration crisis. In a debate where there is little attempts for legalizing the status of hard-working young people that face an unpredictable future because they can’t work, go to school or join the military is affecting the hopes, and potential of many.
The lack of effort from the government causes thousands of young, undocumented individuals to rely in illegal work force to support themselves and their families. TheUnited Statesis missing out on talented workers; instead, they are playing with the lives of our next generation, thus it is a great loss to the country.