The DREAM Act
On December 8th, 2010, the House passed the DREAM Act by a vote of 216-198. The version the House passed is an updated version of the DREAM Act (HR 5281) that was introduced back in March 2009 (HR 1751). The DREAM Act is legislation to give students who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our country’s well-being by serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or pursuing a higher education.
It is limited, targeted legislation that will allow only the best and brightest young people to earn their legal status after a rigorous and lengthy process, and applies only to young people who have lived here for at least five years before the date of enactment, and who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as minors, through no fault of their own.
Under the bill, a Dream Act applicant who meets the bill’s requirements becomes a “conditional nonimmigrant.” The Dream Act would allow an individual to obtain this conditional status only if he or she meets all of the following requirements:
- was brought to the United States as a child (15 years old or younger);
- is currently 29 years old or younger;
- has lived in the U.S. for 5 years or more before the date of enactment;
- has graduated from an American high school, has obtained a GED, or is admitted to an institution of higher education;
- has been a person of “good moral character,” as defined by our immigration laws, from the date the individual initially entered the United States;
- submits biometric and biographic information and completes security and law-enforcement background checks;
- undergoes a medical examination;
- registers for the Selective Service; and
- pays a significiant surcharge in connection with the initial application.
The Dream Act further limits eligibility for conditional status by specifically excluding anyone who:
- has committed one felony or three misdemeanors;
- is likely to become a public charge;
- has engaged in voter fraud or unlawful voting;
- has committed marriage fraud;
- has abused a student visa;
- has engaged in persecution; or
- poses a public health risk.
The Dream Act places the burden of proof on the applicant. An individual would be required to demonstrate eligibility for the Dream Act by a preponderance of the evidence.