DREAM Act Amnesty Reintroduced as Trump Administration Considers Ending DACA
Legislative Update By: Liz Jacobs
Fearing legal challenges to the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, former Gang of Eight leaders Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently reintroduced a new version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2017 (DREAM Act) amnesty bill. (Fox News, July 20, 2017) The legislation, which has repeatedly been rejected by Congress and the American people since Durbin first introduced it in 2001, grants amnesty to illegal aliens who arrived in the United States unlawfully before their 18th birthday by offering work permits and a pathway to citizenship. (Washington Post, July 21, 2017)
Eligibility for the DREAM Act is similar to the requirements for DACA which President Obama unilaterally created in 2012. Specifically, the DREAM Act awards Conditional Permanent Residency status and work authorization to illegal alien applicants who have been in the country for at least four years, claim they entered the United States under the age of 18, and meet security and minimum educational/occupational requirements. (DREAM Act of 2017) An illegal alien must maintain Conditional Permanent Residency status for eight years before he or she can apply for Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) status (also known as a Green Card). (Id.) After five years, a Green Card holder may apply for citizenship. (Id.) Additionally, if passed, current DACA recipients will be immediately granted Conditional Permanent Residency status without needing to apply. (Id.)
The legislation filed on Thursday is very similar to versions of the DREAM Act introduced in previous years. The current version of the bill, however, increases the pool of eligible illegal aliens by raising the age limit for unlawful entry into the United States to 18. (DREAM Act of 2017) Previous versions of the bill only granted amnesty to those who entered the country before the age of 16. Additionally, previous versions of the bill required illegal aliens either join the military or finish two years of higher education. The current version of the bill allows illegal aliens to become LPRs by only maintaining employment and exempts full-time caregivers from all educational or employment requirements. (Id.) “We don’t believe that young people should be held responsible for the errors or the illegal actions of their parents,” Sen. Durbin told reporters Thursday. (CNS News, July 21, 2017) Unsurprisingly, Sen. Durbin failed to mention that once an amnestied illegal alien becomes an LPR as a result of the bill, the illegal alien may petition his or her parents, in addition to other immediate family members, to receive Green Cards, despite their unlawful conduct. (USCIS)
FAIR urges its members to contact their representatives and urge them to support the Rule of Law and oppose the DREAM Act or any legislation that grants amnesty to illegal aliens. “Amnesty for illegal aliens is not immigration reform. It is simply repeating the mistakes of the past. The American people have repeatedly rejected sweeping amnesties for illegal aliens, and targeted ones such as the Dream Act,” stated FAIR President Dan Stein. (FAIR Press Release, July 21, 2017) The DREAM Act only sends the message that the U.S. does not seriously intend to discourage illegal immigration. That is a perception that American voters do not support and lawmakers must reverse.