The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was recently reintroduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The DREAM Act is bipartisan legislation that addresses the situation faced by young people who are brought to the United States years ago as undocumented immigrant children and who have since grown up in the United States, and completed their schooling in the United States. Under the DREAM Act, most students with good moral character who came to the United States at age 15 or younger at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment and who are currently under the age of 35 would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school or being awarded a General Education Diploma (GED) in the United States. At the end of the conditional period, lawful permanent resident status would be granted if the student has 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 towards a Bachelor’s Degree or higher degree; or
- Served in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least two years.
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.
The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001. Since that time, the Act has advanced in both the House and Senate but has never been enacted. However, it is believed that its chances for passage this year have increased because besides having bipartisan support, the bill also has the support of the leadership in both the House and the Senate and the support of the Obama Administration.