Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) alongside Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) reintroduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in congress yesterday.
First proposed in 2001, the DREAM act is a piece of legislation that would allow immigrant students an opportunity to earn permanent residency. In order to be considered eligible, the student must:
- prove that he/she arrived in the US at or before the age of 15.
- prove that he/she has been in the United States for at least five years
- be between the ages of 12 and 30 at the time of the bill's enactment
- have graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED
- demonstrate "good moral character"
If a student fulfills all of these requirements, they would be given temporary residency for a period of six years under the DREAM act. Within that time frame, they must spend two years attending college or serving in the military in order to earn permanent citizenship. If a student does not comply with the academic or military requirement, temporary residency will be revoked and they can be deported. As it stands, children who are brought into the United States illegally have no path to legal and permanent residency.
The controversial bill has come before congress on several occasions since it was originally sponsored, but consistently gets caught up in the political shuffle of the immigration reform debate. It's detractors claim that the legislation serves as a vehicle for amnesty and provides immigrants with undeserved financial support while encouraging more illegal immigration.
But each year in America, thousands of students graduate from high school and face a dead end. They are star athletes, scholars, artists and prom queens; most arrived when they were young children and know only this country as "home." Yet, they face almost insurmountable odds when it comes to pursuing higher education, valid employment or a path to permanent citizenship.
"This measure will provide these young people with an incentive to
move towards permanent residency while pursuing an education or other
worthwhile service," said Sen. Dick Lugar, "Undocumented young people usually arrive with their families and have no understanding of their immigration status. They should be encouraged to complete an education and move toward permanent residency."