"First and foremost, I believe it is wrong to punish innocent children for the crimes of their parents."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Former Gov. Arnold
(R-CA) who vetoed
the CA DREAM Act
The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act gives children living in the U.S. without proper documentation a path to higher education, military service, and eventual citizenship by repealing section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996. The law would apply to children who:
Under the DREAM Act, young men and women who meet all the above criteria could apply for conditional Permanent Resident Status. They could then live and work here legally for 6 years as long as they're pursuing higher education or military service. They would also be entitled to federal aid in the form of student loans and work-study programs but not PELL grants. Each State gets to decide whether or not these students are eligible for in-state tuition.
Work and Live Here Legally
As part of the application, background checks are conducted. In addition, DREAMers must submit biographic and biometric information like DNA, iris scans, palm prints and such to forever confirm their identity. Since status is conditional, it can also be revoked if someone commits a felony or is dishonorably discharged or abandons his or her U.S. home.
The whole program would be administered by the Secretary of Homeland Security who also has the authority to waive provisions due to "extreme hardship" that involves an individual or his or her immediate family who are already lawful citizens.
DREAMers also have other built-in protections. The information in these applications cannot be used to begin removal proceedings against a person. Just the opposite. Once you submit an application, even if it's pending, you automatically receive a "Stay of Removal." Moreover, by law, the application data cannot be shared with anyone but law enforcement. If someone does leak this information, he or she can be fined up $10,000.
Applicants are Protected
At the end of 6 years, DREAMers can petition to remove the conditional status and become Legal Permanent Residents IF they have:
Acquired a degree from a college or university OR
Completed at least two years of a Bachelor's degree OR
Served honorably in the uniformed services for at least 2 years AND
Had a continuous residence in the U.S. AND
Continue to exhibit good moral character
There's a 6-month window in which this petition must be completed, starting 6 months before the 6 year anniversary of your application date and ending on that anniversary date. Those who have not met the requirements or do not petition for Legal Permanent Resident status would revert to their previous undocumented status.
Once an individual has become a Legal Permanent Resident, he or she can apply for Naturalization and complete the requirements necessary to become a full-fledged U.S. citizen.
The DREAM Timeline
Attend 2 Years of College, Earn Bachelor Degree, or Serve in the Military
Apply to become
A Legal Permanent Resident
At Least 5 years + No More Than 6 Years = 11+ Years
The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated as many as 65,000 high school graduates per year would be eligible to be DREAMers. Since the law would apply retroactively to all children brought here after 1996, there would also be an influx of applications the first year. Various sources put that number somewhere between 800,000 and 2.1 million.
Yay! Proponents say relief for innocent children is not only the right thing to do, it's a smart move, leading to increases in tax revenue, productivity and long-term security.
NAY! Opponents claim this bill rewards bad behavior and is unfair to U.S. citizens and immigrants waiting in line legally. It also adds a new program we simply can't afford.
"We should not punish children for their parents' mistakes. That is not the American way. The DREAM Act says to these kids: America will give you a chance. We will give you the opportunity to earn your way to legal status if you work hard and play by the rules."
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Introduced bill in the Senate
"I think there are parts of the DREAM Act that make a lot of sense. For example, folks who are living here who have a good record should be allowed to enlist in the military and should, as a result, be able to earn citizenship."
Newt Gingrich (R-GA)
Former Speaker/2012 Candidate
"Let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further enriching this nation."
President Barack Obama (D-IL)
"Immigration is what's keeping this country's lifeblood moving forward. They enrich our culture with every generation and we have to find a way to protect our borders but, at the same time, treat our immigrant population with respect and dignity and give them a path to citizenship … The DREAM Act is one way we can do this."
General Colin Powell (R)
"We have to have lawfulness in the immigration system before we start giving millions amnesty as this bill will do."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
"The fact remains, however, that these students and their parents are here illegally, and neither sympathy nor good intentions can ameliorate that fact."
Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R-CT)
Vetoing an in-state tuition bill
"In the end, this bill is less about the kids who deserve to benefit from the legislation than it is the country that will get the benefits of having them use their skills and their talents on our behalf."
Rep. Howard Berman D-CA
Introduced Bill in the House
"Given the precarious fiscal condition the state faces as this time, it would not be prudent to place additional demands on our limited financial resources."
The DREAM Act was introduced in every Congress between 2002 and 2011. Both President Bush and President Obama promised immigration reform. In 2012, President Obama issued an Executive Order that effectively put the DREAM Act into effect for 2 years even though it had not yet passed Congress.
This article covers the DREAM Act as introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) in the 112th Congress. Its provisions are now rolled into the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act that has passed the Senate but not the House.
( Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors)
To authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term U.S.residents and who entered the U.S.as children.
The DREAM Act
Came to this country after 1996 (meaning people as old as 35 could apply)
Came to the U.S. under the age of 16
Have lived here continuously for at least 5 years
Have demonstrated good moral character
Have graduated from high school or earned a G.E.D.
Have been admitted to a U.S. institute of higher learning or registered under the Military Service Act
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© Voters Voice, Inc. 2013
A "Representative" Sampling of Opinions