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Profile of the DREAM Act

Immigration Legislation for Educated Minors


Ana Maria Archila (R) and Carly Fox, of the New York State Dream Act Task Force, hold each other during a mock graduation ceremony at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
What Is the DREAM Act?

The DREAM Act is proposed Congressional legislation aimed at providing temporary legal residency, and the ability to apply for permanent residency, for illegal immigrants who were brought by parents to the U.S. as minors, who have graduated from a U.S. high school, and who meet a number of specific conditions and tests.

After obtaining temporary legal residency, "The purpose of... the DREAM Act, is to help those individuals... 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" per the DREAM Act info portal.

In his July 2010 speech on immigration reform, President Obama advocated for passage of the DREAM Act, saying:

"And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they’ve grown up. The DREAM Act would do this...
For more, read DREAM Act May Vanish if Not Passed in 2010.

Brief History of the DREAM Act

DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.

The DREAM Act bill was introduced into both houses of the 111th Congress on March 26, 2009, and is presently sponsored by more than 100 elected leaders from both parties.

Some form of DREAM Act provisions has been introduced in or as a stand-alone bill in every Congress since 2001, the 107th Congress.

The DREAM Act was an integral of the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 led by Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Republican Sen. John McCain.

"On Wednesday October 24, 2007 the Senate rejected an attempt to begin a debate on the DREAM Act that would have allowed young immigrant students to receive the opportunity to pursuit for higher education and fix their current immigration status," per Wikipedia. The 2007 Senate vote was 52 YES, which was eight votes short of overcoming filibuster.

DREAM Act Requirements for Eligibility

  • "Must have entered the United States before the age of 16 (i.e. 15 and younger)
  • "Must have been present in the United States for at least five (5) 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 (i.e. college/university)
  • "Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application
  • "Must have good moral character."
    SOURCE: The DREAM Act Portal website
Steps Once an Applicant is Deemed Eligible

When and if the DREAM Act passes, a qualifying illegal immigrant must do the following to be eligible for DREAM Act provisions:

  • "Apply for the DREAM Act (Since the legislation has not yet passed, there are no specific guidelines on how to apply)
  • "Once approved and granted Conditional Permanent Residency, the individual would have to do one of the following:
    1. "Enroll in an institution of higher education in order to pursue a bachelor's degree or higher degree or
    2. "Enlist in one of the branches of the United States Military
  • "Within 6 years of approval for conditional permanent residency, the individual must have completed at least two (2) years of one of the options outlined in the previous step
  • "Once 5 ½ years of the 6 years have passed, the individual will then be able to apply for Legal Permanent Residency (dropping the conditional part) and consequently will be able to apply for United States Citizenship."
    Source: The DREAM Act Portal website
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