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Reid Schedules DREAM Act Vote

September 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress enacted a stand-alone border security bill this summer. Now they’re going to vote on a bill from the opposite side of the “comprehensive immigration reform” universe — the DREAM Act — that would create a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrnts that serve in the military or earn a college degree.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] announced yesterday (on his website and in a tweet to @ladygaga) that the bill would get a vote next week as an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization bill. When this bill was voted on in the last session of Congress, it fell eight vote shorts of the 60 needed to preempt a filibuster threat. Since then, four of the 9 Republicans who voted for the bill have left the Senate, while all of the nine Democrats who voted “no” are still around. Furthermore, at least one Democrat who voted in favor last time — Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] — is now firmly against it.

So, how does the DREAM Act work? Below is an abridged overview (for the full version, read the 19-page bill yourself).

The bill would automatically grant "conditional permanent resident status to any undocumented immigrant who is meets all of the following criteria:

  • is under 35 years of age
  • has graduated high school or earned a GED
  • has been in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to the deate the law takes effect
  • was 16 years of age or younger when they entered the U.S.
  • is “a person of good moral charecter”
  • has not been under a judicial order of deportation since before they were 16.

The temporary resident status for people meeting these criteria would be good for a period of 6 years. After that time, if a person granted residency under the DREAM Act can be granted permanent citizenship status if they can show that they accomplish at least on of these things (from the bill text):

(i) The alien has acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or has completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States.

(ii) The alien has served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge.

If not, they are automatically returned to their prior undocumented status when the 6-year period is up.

The OpenCongress DREAM Act page can be seen here.

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