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What is the Dream Act?

At the end of November, Majority Leader Reid filed a new version of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in attempts to obtain the requisite 60 votes to pass the Senate and advance the bill. Unfortunately, despite approval by the House, the Senate fell five votes short.

The DREAM Act's passage would have allowed those meeting the specified requirements to have the opportunity to go to college or enlist in the military. The Act would also have provided a path to citizenship, which would otherwise have been unavailable. In order to qualify under the current version of the DREAM Act, individuals must have met the following requirements:

1)    Must have entered the US prior to the age of 16

2)    Must have graduated from a US high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education

3)    Must have been present in the US for at least five consecutive years prior to the enactment of the bill

4)    Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of the application

5)    Must have good moral character.

A similar version of the bill and the DREAM Act itself has been introduced in the House and Senate before, first in 2001. The most recent version of the DREAM act included numerous changes to address concerns regarding the bill, such as the following:

o   Did not force the state to change in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants

o   Did not allow illegal immigrants to gain access to Federal Pell Grants or other types of financial aid

o   Did not grant legal immigrant status to anyone for at least 2 years as opposed to previous versions of the DREAM Act that immediately granted legal status to those who qualified

o   Limited eligibility for conditional nonimmigrant status further by excluding anyone who meets the following conditions:

o   Has committed one felony or three misdemeanors

o   Has engaged in voter fraud or unlawful voting

o   Has committed marriage fraud

o   Is likely to become a public charge

o   Has abused a student visa

o   Poses a public health risk

o   Has engaged in persecution

o   Gave conditional non-immigrants a chance to earn legal immigration status after 2 years and fulfillment of the Act's college or military service requirements and an ability to read, write, speak English, understanding of fundamentals of US Civics, etc.

Despite the numerous revisions, the DREAM Act failed to advance this time and leaves undocumented students with little options and the same flawed immigration system.  Write to your congressperson and tell them you want this to PASS!

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