The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch.
This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal individuals of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they may qualify for permanent residency if they have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge”.
Military enlistment contracts require an eight-year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years. “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated… shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.” This bill would have included illegal immigrants as old as 35 years of age.
Supporters argue that the Act would not create an “amnesty program” and would produce a variety of social and economic benefits, while critics contend that it would reward illegal immigration and encourage further illegal immigration, inviting fraud and shielding gang members from deportation.
Why We Need The DREAM Act Now