Myths vs. Facts: DREAM Act
As the public debate on the DREAM Act moves forward, it is vital that the facts on this important legislation remain clear. The Dream Act is good for our economy, our security, and our nation. And the lenghty and rigorous process the DREAM Act establishes will ensure that our nation is enriched with only the most promising young people who have already grown up in America. In fact, according to a recent analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, just 38 percent of all potential beneficiaries will successfully complete the DREAM Act’s rigorous process and earn permanent immigration status.
Myth: Opponents claim the DREAM Act is “amnesty.”
Fact: The Dream Act requires responsibility and accountability of young people who apply to adjust their status under the DREAM Act, creating a lenghty and rigorous process.
- Young people must meet several requirements in order to qualify for the conditional status it will provide them. These requirements include entering the country when they were under 16 years old, proving they have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years and graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED; demonstrating their good moral character; proving they have not committed any crimes that would make them inadmissible to the country. Only then can they obtain a conditional status for a limited period of time.
- After their six year conditional status, these same individuals will need to meet additional requirements to move on to the next phase of this process. Specifically, they must have attended college or served in the U.S. military for at least 2 years, and once again, pass criminal background checks, and demonstrate good moral character. If young people are unable to fulfillthese requirements, they will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation.
- Only applies to individuals who entered the U.S. as children. According to DREAM Act’s provisions, beneficiaries must have entered the United States when they were under 16 years old.
- DREAM Act applicants will be responsible for paying fees to cover the costs of USCIS processing their applications. According to Section 286(m) of Immigration and Nationality Act provisions, the cost of having U.S. Customs and Immigration Services process DREAM Act applications will be covered by the application fees.
- DREAM Act applicants would be subject to rigorous criminal background checks and reviews. All criminal grounds of inadmissibility and removability that apply to other aliens seeking lawful permanent resident status would apply and bar criminal aliens from gaining conditional or unconditional LPR status under the DREAM Act. Additionally, decisions to grant status are discretionary, and any alien with a criminal record not automatically barred by these provisions would only be granted status when and if the Secretary exercises her discretion favorably.
Myth: Opponents claim the DREAM Act would encourage more students to immigrate illegally, and that applicants would just use it to petition for relatives.
Fact: The DREAM Act only applies to young people already in the United States who were brought here as children, it would not apply to anyone arriving later, so it cannot act as a “magnet” encouraging others to come. Furthermore,. DREAM Act applicants would not be able to petition for any family member until fulfilling lengthy and rigorous requirements outlined above, and even then, they would have to wait years before being able to successfully petition for parents or siblings..
- DREAM Act beneficiaries would only be able to petition for entry of their parents or sibling if they have satisfied all of the requirements under the DREAM Act. Even then, they would be subject to the same annual caps waiting periods in order to petition for their relatives; the bottom line is that it would take many years before parents or siblings who previously entered the country illegally could obtain a green card.
Myth: Opponents claim the DREAM Act would result in taxpayers having to subsidize student loans for those students who register through the DREAM Act.
Fact: DREAM Act students would not be eligible for federal grants, period.
- An alien who adjusts to lawful permanent resident status under DREAM qualifies only for certain specified types of Federal higher education assistance. Undocumented youth adjusting to lawful permanent resident status are only eligible for federal student loans which must be paid back, and federal work-study programs, where they must work for any benefit they receive. They would not eligible for federal grants, such as Pell Grants.