The subject of immigration reform has become a hot-button issue over the past few years. In response to increased illegal immigration into America, lawmakers have sought ways to clear a path for citizenship for children of immigrants. One of the strongest contenders for resolving this issue is the DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors.
Initially introduced by Congress in August 1, 2001, this bill would allow illegal immigrants who arrived in America as minors to apply for conditional permanent residency. Conditions for eligibility include having proof of arriving in the United States before the age of 16, having registered with Selective Service (if male), being between the ages of 12 and 30 at the time the bill is enacted, having either graduated from a U.S. high school, obtained a GED or gained admittance to an institution of higher learning. Individuals seeking conditional residency must also demonstrate that they are of good moral character, as defined by the law.
Those who meet these conditions would then be granted conditional status in which they’d have a period of six years to either graduate from a two-year community college, complete two years towards a four-year degree or serve in the U.S. military for two years. After this six-year period, and having met one of these three conditions, the individual would then be eligible to apply for permanent resident status.
Supporters of the DREAM Act suggest that this bill will have a profoundly positive impact on America. Fans of the bill note that these young people, sometimes referred to as DREAMers, have already developed characteristics that will be beneficial to themselves and the country. DREAMers have the benefit of being bi-lingual and of having already developed a work ethic by holding down jobs while still in high school.
A study from UCLA suggests that The Dream Act could be especially helpful to the economy. The study estimates that over a 40-year period, somewhere between 825,000 and 2.1 million DREAMers could become U.S. citizens, and as much as $3.6 trillion in taxable income would be produced. It is thought that this influx of tax money would help reduce the country’s debt. Another benefit pointed out by those in favor of the bill is the likely increased enlistment in the U.S. military, which has faced recruitment challenges in recent years.
While it is not yet clear if the DREAM Act will finally become law after all of this time, it is apparent that the implementation of this bill would be significant not only for those who wish to become legal residents, but for the country as a whole.