DREAM first introduced coverage of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) when we reported that the political action campaign sought after Eric Balderas, the Harvard student who was retained in Texas when he lost his Mexican passport and tried to use his student identification card to board a flight to Boston from San Antonio. The campaign felt he would be an ideal test case to headline their proposed DREAM act.

But what exactly is the DREAM Act?

The DREAM Act is a federal bill that was re-introduced into both chambers of Congress on March 26, 2009 by Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Richard Lugar, Harry Reid, Mel Martinez, Patrick J. Leahy, Joseph Lieberman, Edward M. Kennedy, and Russel D. Feingold, and U.S. Representative Howard Berman, also a Democrat.

It aims to provide certain immigrant students who have grown up in America, to apply for temporary and eventually permanent, legal citizenship status, if they attend an American college or serve in the U.S. military.

The College Board, a recognized leader in it’s affiliations with higher education, recently issued a report supporting the DREAM Act.

Support for the campaign says that these undocumented immigrant children have grown up in the country, are fully integrated, and that instead of being deported, they would be given the opportunity to contribute to American society.

Once finalized by Congress, immigrants who would qualify for the act would have to meet all of the following criteria:
•    Are between the ages of 12 and 35 when the law is enacted
•    Arrived into the United States prior to the age of 16
•    Resided in the United States for at least consecutive five years since the date of their arrival
•    Graduated from an American high school or obtained a General Education Diploma (GED)

Students who qualify will be granted a six-year temporary residency, provided they are not convicted of a major crime. Immigrants will also be able to apply for student loans and work-study programs but are not eligible for Pell education grants.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) estimates that 65,000 children would be impacted by the legislation annually. However, keep in mind that since the bill has not yet passed, there have been no specific guidelines on how to apply.

For more information, visit the DREAM website.  

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