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Dream Act

Dream Act

The Dream Act: A Complete Guide

The Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is a law that has been proposed multiple times in the United States Congress. It aims to provide undocumented immigrants, who arrived in the United States as minors, with a path to citizenship. The legislation has been a topic of heated debate, with supporters calling it a humanitarian approach to address the issue of undocumented individuals’ presence in the United States, while critics argue it would reward individuals for breaking the law. The Dream Act is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in the United States, and its future is something of interest to millions of people in the country.

What is the Dream Act?

The Dream Act is a piece of legislation that seeks to create a path to citizenship for young undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children. It aims to reward those who have lived most of their lives in the country, by granting them legal status, access to education, and an opportunity to work in the United States without fear of deportation. The Dream Act serves as a critical piece of legislation in the United States, representing a potential avenue for many undocumented persons to regularize their status and achieve the American Dream.

History of the Dream Act

The Dream Act was first introduced in the United States Senate in 2001 by Senator Orrin Hatch, and was then reintroduced by a group of bipartisan senators in 2003. Over the years, it has been re-introduced multiple times in Congress but has never been successfully passed into law. The last major attempt to pass the Dream Act was in 2010, when the law was voted on in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Despite passing in the House of Representative, the bill failed to secure the necessary 60 votes required to bypass a filibuster and move to the Senate floor. In December 2010, the bill was officially shelved and has not moved forward since, and has been met by criticism, support, and speculation from all sides of the political divide.

What are the eligibility criteria for Dreamers?

The Dream Act covers a specific group of undocumented individuals living in the United States. To be eligible under the proposed legislation, the individual must have come to the United States before the age of 16 and must have resided in the country for at least five years. Additionally, the person must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have no criminal record and have lived in the United States since 2020. These individuals can apply for status adjustment in the United States, which would afford them the protections of a lawful permanent resident.

How the Dream Act could benefit America?

The Dream Act, if passed, could have a significant impact on the United States’ economy and society more broadly. Currently, the undocumented population is estimated to consist of approximately 11 million individuals. Enabling Dreamers to achieve legal status would allow them to work and contribute to the country, both economically and socially. As the majority of individuals eligible under the Dream Act have lived their entire lives in the United States, it would help build a stronger sense of community and integration within the country. Additionally, it would provide these individuals with education and employment opportunities, allowing them to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

Why do some people oppose the Dream Act?

The Dream Act has been met by opposition from various fronts. Some oppose the law, believing it rewards individuals who have broken the law by sneaking into the country. They believe the Dreamers do not deserve to have their status legalized. Additionally, others feel that the law could act as a magnet, attracting more undocumented individuals into the country. The legal uncertainty surrounding the Dream Act has created fear amongst different factions of society, resulting in a polarized political and social environment.

What is the current status of the Dream Act in Congress?

The Dream Act was reintroduced in Congress in 2019 and 2021 and currently has over 38 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, with additional support from the Senate. The introduction of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) in the House of Representatives includes immigration legislation that does not require the potential immigrants that would fall under the Dream Act to return to their home countries first, and allows individuals with low-level criminal convictions to apply for legal status. While the Dream Act bill’s future is uncertain, there is support across the political divide, and it would not be a surprise for it to become law shortly.


The Dream Act represents a critical piece of legislation in the United States, impacting millions of people. The law aims to create a pathway to legal status for young undocumented individuals that grew up in the United States, and as such, is crucial to their futures. The Dream Act represents a potential avenue for many undocumented individuals to fulfill their dreams and become essential contributors to the country. As Congress considers this legislation, it is essential to consider the benefits of granting legal status to the country’s undocumented population and the opportunities presented by the Dream Act’s passage. It would be wise to consider the potential benefits for the country, both in terms of the economy and society more broadly, in the coming years.

What is the DREAM Act?

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) is bill that is currently in the U.S. Senate.  The bill provides the conditional permanent residency to certain illegal alien-students.  The purpose is to allow the opportunity to either go to college or enlist in the military service in order to expedite the process to becoming United States citizens.  It was originally proposed in 2001 but was passed.  The current bill’s goal is to qualify undocumented alien students to be eligible for a 6 year path to citizenship that would require the completion of a college degree or two years of military service.

A recent study by UCLA has shown that the DREAM Act could contribute to $1.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion in taxable income over the next 40 years if passed based on a range of 800,000 and 2 million potential DREAM Act beneficiaries successfully completing the application process.

Are there specific requirements to qualify?

There are a number of specific requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for DREAM Act immigration status.  The first is that the individual must have entered the United States prior to the age of 16 and been present in the United States for 5 consecutive years prior to the enactment of the bill.  The individual must have also graduated from a United States high school or obtained a GED, or have been accepted into college or university.  The DREAM Act only applies to individuals who are between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application and they must also show that they have “good moral character.”

What is Good Moral Character?

The definition of “good moral character” as it applies to the DREAM Act is not defined in the statute, this leaves it open to interpretation.  Essentially the term means a law abiding resident of the United States.  Since the term is not defined in the bill it is uncertain to say what forms of illegality will nullify an individual’s status.  A misdemeanor crime conducted prior to 18 will not be taken as seriously as a felony performed in the same time frame but it is unclear how strict the final form of the legislation will be.

What is the Legislative History of the DREAM ACT?

The DREAM Act, as heralded by proponents, is a way for the United States to trim its immigration backlog.  It has been noted that the path to immigration in this country is difficult and, when done correctly, can take between 6 and 12 years to receive United States citizen status.  The DREAM Act was proposed in order to, not only afford an opportunity for immigrants and children of illegal immigrants, to achieve success in this country but also a way to streamline the immigration process.

The DREAM Act has been part of the legislative agenda for over a decade.  Since its introduction in 2001 it has been granted acclaim and at the same time chastised.  Many opponent of the bill have claimed that it is a form of amnesty and allows illegal immigration to continue with the states bearing the cost.  In the 2007 version of the bill it was reported, incorrectly, that the bill required those eligible for the DREAM Act to be permitted to qualify for instate tuition.  Although this was incorrect it did cause the bill to be shelved.

In both 2009 and again in 2010 the DREAM Act was reintroduced to the Senate.  In the updated bill eligibility extinguished at 29 and even after meeting the 6 year requirement illegal immigrants who qualify for the DREAM Act would still have to wait 2 years before being eligible for residency and thus take advantage of in-state tuition.  The bill also indicated that these students would not be eligible for government grants, including Pell Grants.

In May of 2011 the bill was proposed once more in the Senate by Majority leader Harry Reid.  Republicans have criticized the bill and state that the bill should not be granted without some accompanying change in immigration enforcement.

How do I apply for the DREAM Act?

There are no specific guidelines in place to register for the DREAM Act.  The bill has been proposed numerous times and the chances of it passing in 2011 have been noted as “slim.” However, if it does pass it is a good idea to be prepared.  In this case an individual will want to get a conditional permanent residency in the united states by

California Dream Act

doing one of two things.  By either enrolling in college or university or enlisting in any of the branches of the U.S. armed forces.  Within 6 years of approval for conditional permanent residency, the applicant must have completed at least 2 years of either college or military service and once 5 and a half years of the 6 years have passed the individual will then be able to apply for Legal Permanent Residency and will be able to apply for United States Citizenship.

In 2011 the governor of California signed into law the California Dream Act.  The new law allows immigrants to apply to, and receive, private college scholarships.  Another separate bill that is in the legislature would allow immigrants to seek publicly funded scholarships as well.