People Love the DREAM Act

People love the Dream Act...

If you work in any capacity on Immigration issues, this simple fact is inescapable. It is hard to dislike legislation that gives children an opportunity to seek a higher education.

Education, as the great equalizer, is a notion deeply tied to the American ideal of equity. The idea that anyone, no matter what their social class, can come to this country work hard, get an education and rise above their economic class is a powerful American narrative.

For the reasons mentioned above The DREAM Act remains very popular to both political parties. Senators Richard Durbin (D)  and Richard Lugar (R) have co-sponsored legislation in the Senate.  

Below is an excerpt from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors  (DREAM) Act of 2009.

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2009 or the DREAM Act of 2009 - Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the denial of an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence.

Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who:

(1) entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act;

(2) is a person of good moral character;

(3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act;

(4) at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma;

(5) from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal; and

(6) was under age 35 on the date of this Act's enactment.

Sets forth the conditions for conditional permanent resident status, including:

(1) termination of status for violation of this Act; and

(2) removal of conditional status to permanent status.

Authorizes an alien who has satisfied the appropriate requirements prior to enactment of this Act to petition the Secretary for conditional permanent resident status.

Provides for:

(1) exclusive jurisdiction

(2) penalties for false application statements

(3) confidentiality

(4) fee prohibitions

(5) higher education assistance

(6) a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report respecting the number of aliens adjusted under this Act.

Now to decode some of the jargon in this very dry, very wonky legispeak.

The bulk of what this legislation does is undo some of the terrible policies passed in the 1996 Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). 

It is somewhat amazing, in the current climate of enforcement and continued hysteria over all things Immigration, that before IIRIRA was enacted, your immigration status was not an impediment when applying to college.

This legislation also provides undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for  conditional permanent residency (under a list of caveats listed above) which would then give them the opportunity to go to college.

If you want to get really wonky, you can look up the definition of what a permanent resident is over at the Department of Homeland Security website here.

The rest I think speaks for itself. Read the whole thing  here and make sure to follow the Trail of Dreams, which follows a group of undocumented immigrants on their journey from Miami, FL to Washington D.C. to share their stories, "so that everyday Americans understand what it’s like for the millions of young immigrants like us, unable to fully participate in society."