Senators propose “Dream Act of 2017”

Senators propose “Dream Act of 2017”

On July 20, 2017 Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bipartisan bill (supported by Democrats and Republicans), called the Dream Act of 2017, which would provide a pathway to lawful permanent resident status to young people brought to the US at an early age.

The Dream Act would differ from Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), in that DACA was an executive action by former Pres. Obama, whereas the Dream Act would be a law passed by Congress and hopefully signed by Pres. Trump.  Moreover, DACA merely provided protection against deportation and work authorization, whereas the Dream Act could eventually lead to a full green card.

Some of the highlights of this proposed Dream Act include:

  • Granting lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to a person who:
    • entered the US when they were 17 years old or younger
    • Had been continuously physically present in the US for at least 4 years before the date of enactment of the Dream Act, or the date when the president signs it.
    • Must be law-abiding. This means they should not have been convicted of any offense punishable by one year in jail or more, or three or more offenses where they spent a total of 90 days or more in prison.
    • Is not inadmissible (ineligible for a green card) for committing certain crimes, terrorism, student visa abuse, unlawful voting, etc.
    • Has been admitted to an institution of higher education or has graduated from high school or obtained a GED or high school equivalency diploma.
  • Anyone previously granted DACA would also qualify under the Dream Act, unless that person engaged in conduct that would make him or her ineligible for DACA.
  • If qualified and eligible, the person would be granted conditional permanent resident status for eight years. (By comparison, people who marry a US citizen are granted conditional permanent resident status for two years, after which they can apply to have their conditions removed.  Under the Dream Act, the person would be a conditional resident for eight years, and then apply to have those conditions removed and get a full green card.)
  • In order to have conditional resident status removed at the end of those eight years, the person:
    • Must have been law-abiding, without criminal convictions or inadmissibilities (such as fraud).
    • Must have obtained a bachelor’s degree or at least two years in good standing for a bachelor’s degree, completed at least two years of military service, or has been employed for at least three years, with employment authorization.
    • Must demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak English, and demonstrates knowledge of the fundamentals of US history, principles, and form of government.
  • Information provided in DACA applications or applications filed under the Dream Act shall not be disclosed or used for purposes of immigration enforcement.

I want to emphasize this Dream Act proposal is NOT YET LAW.  Therefore, there is nothing for you to apply for at the present time.  Both the House and Senate must vote to approve this proposal and the president must sign it.  The Dream Act has been proposed many times in the past, but never became law.  In addition, Pres. Trump initially vowed to eliminate DACA, but he has since expressed a willingness to support some kind of legislation that could benefit young people brought to the US at an early age, saying we have to deal “humanely” with these young people.

In the meantime, you should start gathering documents showing you have been in the US for at least four years, make sure you are law-abiding, and pray this proposal becomes law!

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