What is the DREAM Act?
The DREAM act, which stands for “Development, Relief and Educations for Alien Minors” is a piece of legislation that is designed to provide a path to citizenship for people who immigrated without documentation into the United States while they were minors. This act is designed to address a kind of blind spot within the consideration of larger and more broad immigration reforms. Since minors cannot be said to have had any role in their immigrating to the United States without documentation, it seems counterintuitive to hold them specifically accountable for their continued presence within the United States borders.
History of the DREAM Act
The DREAM act was first introduced to both houses of Congress in 2001 by Luis Guitiérrez, a representative from Illinois’ 4th district as the “Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001.” After being passed around between houses and changing titles, the bill failed to be passed. After this, the bill failed to gain traction while the Republican Party held control of Congress. During the Obama Administration, the bill was reintroduced to Congress again in 2010. Despite action to see the bill through on both sides of the aisle, the bill failed to pass once it got to the Senate, being defeated by a mere five votes.
Who Is Covered By The DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act is designed to cover individuals who are in the United States without documentation through no fault of their own. It is intended to cover minors and people who were minors when they immigrated into the country. Therefore, the program is meant to cover undocumented immigrants who are currently between the ages of 15 and 30. However, this act would also be extended to individuals as they come of age. In addition, the individual would need to have been residing within the United States for five consecutive years and have been under the age of 16 when they entered the country. Aside from the age requirements, there are other caveats attached.
Because some members of Congress felt it necessary, one of the main caveats is that these individuals be in good moral standing. Therefore, any individual within that age group who has a felony or a significant misdemeanor on their record would be ineligible. In addition, someone within that age group who has three smaller misdemeanors would be ineligible.
Aside from the moral characteristic of the law, there is also an educational component. It requires that eligible individuals be currently enrolled in high school or to have achieved their GED or diploma. Barring that, they must have been accepted to or enrolled in an institution of higher education.
What Does The DREAM Act Do?
The DREAM act attempts to address the question of undocumented immigrants who are in the United States through no will of their own. It attempts to provide a path to citizenship (https://www.lawfirmofannapolis.com/immigration/), while ensuring that those individuals can have access to some of the benefits of full United States citizenship. As such, the secondary benefit to the legislation, aside from the path to citizenship that it provides, is education.
With the temporary citizenship that the legislation bestows, it would allow individuals who qualify under it to enroll in institutions of higher learning. They would need to complete a degree or have at least put in two years toward one and be in good academic standing in order to qualify for permanent citizenship. Alternatively, an individual could consider enlisting in the military, where he or she would need to serve a minimum of two years with honorable discharge in order to be considered for permanent citizenship.