House Passes the DREAM Act

On June 4, 2019, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the Dream Act and Promise Act of 2019, which is recognized as the most significant immigration bill to pass a chamber of Congress in six years. With a vote of 237 to 187, the Act was approved by almost every Democrat in the House and a handful of Republican seats.

The Dream Act was originally introduced in 2001 but has never passed Congress. It has been in an ongoing state of limbo for the past two decades as legislatures have continuously made efforts to place millions of young undocumented immigrants on a path towards U.S. citizenship.

The newly proposed Dream Act aims at providing protection to over two million recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Estimated numbers include:

  • About 670,000 DACA recipients, or “Dreamers”;
  • Over 400,000 TPS recipients;
  • About 1,000 or more DED recipients; and
  • An additional 1.5 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children and did not qualify or apply for DACA.

More specifically, under the proposed Act, the Department of Justice will cancel and prohibit removal proceedings against any qualified undocumented immigrants and provide them with a path towards permanent resident status. There are several requirements to qualify, such as continuous presence in the United States and enrollment in or completion of certain educational programs. Others who qualify include those currently with DACA who are eligible for renewal, as well as those temporarily protected under TPS and DED.

The proposed Act grants eligible applicants 10-year conditional permanent residence. Upon the completion of the 10-year conditional status, U.S. citizenship could be obtained. In addition, the proposed Act would grant qualified youth access to federal financial aid for college.

The House of Representatives has voted to provide “Dreamers” a path towards legal permanent residence and eventual U.S. citizenship. Despite this tremendous progress, it is highly unlikely the bill would pass the Republican-led Senate.

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