Senators Reintroduces Federal DREAM Act
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (known as the DREAM Act) on May 11, 2011. The bill outlines a pathway for thousands of undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools to gain legal immigrant status.
The DREAM Act was originally introduced by Sen. Durbin and others in 2001, and it has been introduced in each subsequent Congressional session since then. In December 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act and a majority of U.S. Senators approved it, but the bill was five votes short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.
The bill calls for undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients to have an opportunity for U.S.citizenship by either attending college or serving in the military for two years. In addition to passing a background check, the students must have:
- entered the U.S. before turning 16
- have lived in the U.S. for at least five years
- have “good moral character”
Reintroduction of the DREAM Act has triggered a wide range of responses, both positive and negative.
Supporters of the DREAM Act say it will benefit the military, the national economy and the educational system. Legal immigration will:
- allow smart, multilingual, multicultural people pursue college degrees, earn real wages, open bank accounts, purchase homes, and start businesses
- generate tax and other dollars that will help decrease the national deficit and contribute to rises in revenues and GDP
- increase the number of people willing and able to join the U.S. military, helping to maintain its purely volunteer status
Opponents of the DREAM Act believe it will provide unfair amnesty for illegal immigrants as opposed to punishing them for immigrating illegally. They also say it will:
- promote additional illegal immigration and increase the number of false claims immigrants give, saying that they came here as children when they did not
- impose further pressure on an already strained U.S. economy because legalizing these students will create costs in public services that will far outweigh any gains
- perpetuate favor given to immigrant students under affirmative action in colleges and universities, displacing U.S. citizens
Of the more than three million students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year, approximately 65,000 of them graduate without having legal immigration status. To learn more about the DREAM Act, please visit:thomas.loc.gov.