S01E04: H.R. 1751, the DREAM Act

One page summary below the fold…

H.R. 1751: American Dream Act (aka DREAM Act)
Introduced 3/26/2009
Sponsor: Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA28)
Primary Co-sponsors: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL21), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA34)
Click here to download this summary (pdf)

Cosponsors: 128 (123 Democrats, 5 Republicans). Full list at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:HR01751:@@@P

Status: In Education and Labor and Judiciary Committees. Not scheduled for action.

Senate Companion: S. 729: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2009, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). A version of the DREAM Act has been included in the defense authorization bill, which will be on the Senate floor this week.

Purpose: There is currently no path for undocumented immigrant children to obtain permanent status. This legislation would create a mechanism for doing so if said children meet a number of conditions.

Summary: The DREAM Act amends the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to allow undocumented immigrants to become conditional permanent residents and receive higher education benefits if they:

1) Are between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of enactment (Senate bill only);
2) Entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and have been living here for at least five years;
3) Have been admitted to a college or university, or have received their high school diploma or GED;
4) Are “of good moral character” (the technical term for an upstanding member of society).

All eligible immigrants will be granted “conditional permanent resident” status for six years, and during that time must either complete two years of a higher education degree program or serve for two years in the military. Conditional permanent residents would not be eligible for federal Pell Grants, but could apply for other programs such as loans and work study. After that period, if they meet all requirements they will obtain permanent residency with a path to eventual citizenship. However, if they do not meet the educational or military service requirement, or commit a felony or drug-related offense, their status is immediately revoked and they are subject to deportation proceedings.

The legislation also requires a GAO report within 7 years providing performance measures and related information.

One point of clarification: Critics have claimed the bill forces states to offer in-state tuition to eligible immigrants, but it merely allows them to do so.

CBO Score: none provided. CBO did score the DREAM Act in 2002 and estimated costs of $364 million for the 2003-2012 period.

Supporters: America’s Voice, National Immigration Law Center, higher education organizations, President Obama, etc.

• Supporters consider this measure a more piecemeal alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, but a necessary first step. It will provide previously unavailable opportunities to thousands of undocumented young adults each year, increase the national tax base and boost military recruitment.

Opposition: NumbersUSA, Federation for American Immigration Reform, many social conservative organizations

• Opposition mostly claims this measure will encourage further illegal immigration, have a detrimental fiscal effect, decrease job opportunities for American citizens, and serve as a key stepping stone to full amnesty.

Further links
Full bill text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-1751
Official CRS summary: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-1751&tab=summary
National Immigration Law Center info hub: http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/index.htm
America’s Voice DREAM Act portal: http://americasvoiceonline.org/index.php/dream
Federation for American Immigration Reform information: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=dream_act_amnesty

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