Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2007

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Article summary (how summaries work)

The DREAM Act would have created a path to permanent residency and citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, if they enrolled in college or the U.S. military for two years. An estimated 360,000 immigrants would have been eligible for the program, though critics said that they could in turn apply for permanent residency for immediate family members.

The bill was supported by the Drum Major Institute, the National Parent-Teacher Association and the U.S. Episcopal Conference. Opposed included the Bush administration, the Heritage Foundation and NumbersUSA.

It was defeated in the 110th Congress (see below), but Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is expected to reintroduce the legislation in the 111th Congress.



Contents

Current status

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is expected to reintroduce the legislation in the Senate.

Bill summary

As voted on by the Senate in October 2007, the DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for some children who were brought here illegally at a young age. It would allow about 360,000 such 18-24 year-olds to apply to the Department of Homeland Security for a six-year conditional legal status if they:

  1. Were brought into the U.S. as children under the age of 16;
  2. Have graduated from high school or obtained a G.E.D.;
  3. Have lived in the U.S. continuously for five years; and
  4. Have been law-abiding and generally of "good moral character."

Those who qualify for conditional status may apply for permanent resident status if they spend at least two years attending college and are in good standing or join the U.S. military. About 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year and would potentially be eligible for the program.[1][2]

Bill history

110th Congress

On October 24, 2007 the sponsors of the bill were unable to get the 60 votes necessary to open floor debate on the bill. The vote failed, 52-44, with 38 Democrats, 12 Republicans and two independents voting in favor; 8 Democrats and 36 Republicans voting against; and three Democrats and one Republican abstaining.[3]


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: Drum Major Institute 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"The DREAM Act would enable students who immigrated to the U.S. as children to further their education, get better jobs, and, as a result, pay more in taxes, contributing more to the economic prosperity necessary to sustain a strong middle class. Fulfilling their potential, they may be the nation’s future innovators and entrepreneurs and will make up part of the educated workforce needed to help the U.S. compete in the global economy. The students who would be impacted by the legislation grew up in this country, attended U.S. schools, speak English, and consider themselves Americans – many cannot remember living anywhere else. An unsatisfactory alternative to the DREAM Act is that these talented young people might never achieve their potential, but will instead be marginalized by their lack of legal status in the country they grew up in, and will continue to live in the shadows, working low-paid jobs off the books and contributing far less to the U.S. and its national prosperity than they might have. America does not benefit when young people eager to offer their skills and talents are punished for the decisions made by their parents."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/library/report.php?ID=63)

Scored vote

Scorecard: National Journal 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Nay

Description:

"Limit debate on a measure to permit unlawful immigrants who entered the United States as children to gain legal status if they attend college or serve in the military. October 24. (52-44; 60 votes required to invoke cloture)"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/senate_votes.htm)

Other support

  • The National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA): "PTA believes that all children should have access to education and that every student should be afforded every opportunity to graduate from high school and pursue postsecondary education, including vocational education… [The Dream Act] opens the door to a better, brighter future for the children of immigrant families who want to go on to school, better their lives, and become contributing members of society. PTA further believes that an educated, successful populace benefits the United States as a whole." (March 6, 2007)[2]
  • The U.S. Episcopal Conference: "The DREAM Act would give these young people an opportunity to meet their potential and to fully contribute to our society… the United States is the only country and home many of them know… Should we forsake these young people because we lack the political will and courage to provide them a just remedy? By investing in these young people, our nation will receive the benefits for years to come. It is also the right and moral thing to do." -Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, on behalf of the U.S. Episcopal Conference (September 20, 2007)[2]
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "They follow the rules, they work hard in school, and unfortunately, they are undocumented, so their options are greatly limited, and they can be deported at any time. We are not a country that punishes children for the mistakes of their parents." (October 24, 2007)[2]

Opposition

The bill was opposed by the Bush administration, which issued a statement saying:

The Administration continues to believe that the Nation’s broken immigration system requires comprehensive reform. This reform should include strong border and interior enforcement, a temporary worker program, a program to bring the millions of undocumented aliens out of the shadows without amnesty and without animosity, and assistance that helps newcomers assimilate into American society. Unless it provides additional authorities in all of these areas, Congress will do little more than perpetuate the unfortunate status quo... Any resolution of [the status of young undocumented immigrants], however, must be careful not to provide incentives for recurrence of the illegal conduct that has brought the Nation to this point. By creating a special path to citizenship that is unavailable to other prospective immigrants—including young people whose parents respected the Nation’s immigration laws—S. 2205 falls short. The Administration therefore opposes the bill...

Sponsors of S. 2205 argue that the bill is necessary in order to give children who are illegal aliens incentives to obtain an education. But it is difficult to reconcile that professed aim with the bill’s retroactivity provisions: even those who attended college years earlier will be eligible for a green card.

The legal status that the bill grants its beneficiaries means that they can petition almost instantly to bring family members into the country. It also places them on the fast track to citizenship because they can immediately begin accruing the residence time in the United States that is necessary for naturalization. Finally, this legal status entitles the bill’s beneficiaries to certain welfare benefits within five years [and it] includes loopholes that would authorize permanent status for certain aliens convicted of multiple misdemeanors and even felonies.

The open-ended nature of S. 2205 is objectionable and will inevitably lead to large-scale document fraud. The path to citizenship remains open for decades, thus creating a strong temptation for future illegal aliens to purchase fraudulent documents on a burgeoning black market. Moreover, the bill’s confidentiality provisions are drawn straight from the 1986 amnesty law and will provide the same haven for fraud and criminality as that law did.[4]

The bill was opposed by NumbersUSA, which provided this analysis:

[This] ill-conceived proposal, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who satisfy these criteria as of enactment, also would be a rolling amnesty drawing more illegal aliens here in the future to apply for amnesty...

The age limit for amnesty applicants... would narrow, but would not close, a gaping loophole in this amnesty because any illegal alien up to age 30 can still walk into any U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, declare that he is eligible, and be granted amnesty with minimal documentation of eligibility. That 30-year-old could claim that he illegally entered the United States when he was 15, but there is no requirement that the alien prove that he entered the United States at the claimed time by providing particular documents. The proposal would merely require him to "demonstrate" that he is eligible, which in practice could mean simply making a sworn statement to that effect. Thus, it would be an invitation for just about every illegal alien 30 and under to fraudulently claim the amnesty.

In addition, the alien then would have six years to adjust his status from a conditional green card holder to a non-conditional one. To do so, he would need only to complete two years of study at an institution of higher education, including any vocational school. If, at that point, the alien had already completed two years of study, he could adjust to non-conditional status immediately (and use his green card as a platform to sponsor parents and other family members). As an alternative to two years of study, he could enlist in the U.S. military (or any other of the "uniformed services," such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Public Health Service) for two years...

An illegal alien who applies for this nightmare of an amnesty would be allowed to count his years under "conditional" green card status toward the five years needed for citizenship. On top of that, the illegal alien could claim "retroactive benefits" and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. In combination, these two provisions would put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship, moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully-present aliens, meanwhile, would have to continue to follow a slower path to citizenship... The DREAM Act also would make illegal aliens eligible for Federal student loans and Federal work-study programs – another benefit that law-abiding foreign students cannot receive – all at taxpayer expense.[5]

The bill was opposed by the Heritage Foundation, which issued this statement:

This bill shares many of the worst attributes of the comprehensive immigration and border security reform bill that failed in the Senate last spring. The measure does nothing to enhance immigration and border enforcement, undermines the rule of law, and would encourage further illegal entry and unlawful presence in the United States. Clothing the bill as a "humanitarian" gesture is disingenuous; trying to fast-track the legislation for passage without debate or amendments is inexcusable...

The DREAM Act represents little more than amnesty that rewards parents who brought their kids to United States in violation of the law. The bill contains the following significant defects:
  • The bill would make applicants eligible for in-state tuition, which would discriminate against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students;
  • The bill would place no limits on when individuals could apply or the number of persons who could apply. This would leave the program open to widespread abuse and rampant fraud.
This bill, regardless of the humanitarian goals claimed by its supporters, would further undermine efforts to enforce immigration laws and border security. It would make the task of securing the U.S.-Mexican border more difficult, and it would lead to higher costs for the state and local governments that bear much of the fiscal burden of unlawful presence.[6]

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Donny Shaw, "How Dead an Issue is Immigration?" OpenCongress blog, October 23, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2007, fact sheet on theMiddleClass.org congressional scorecard.
  3. Vote info page, OpenCongress.org.
  4. "STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY: S. 2205 – Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2007" (pdf), George W. Bush administration, Oct. 24, 2007.
  5. "Cloture Vote On DREAM Act Amnesty Bill Fails," NumbersUSA.com.
  6. James Jay Carafano, "The DREAM Act: Senate Could Soon Vote on "Stealth" Amnesty Bill," Heritage Foundation memo, Oct. 23, 2007.

External resources

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