Congressmen have continually introduced several forms of this bill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congressmen in the House have not brought the bill to a floor vote as a stand-alone bill; Senators debated a version of the DREAM Act S.2205 on October 24 2007. The bill required 60 votes to gain cloture by a 52-44 vote, 8 votes short of overcoming a filibuster by senators opposed to the bill.
The United States military faces challenges in enlistment, which in 2005 were described as a "crisis". Immigrants who do not have a "green card" are not technically allowed to enlist (although unlawful exceptions are sometimes made due to enlistment shortfalls). Several senior officials at the Department of Defense have spoken in favor of promising legal status to members of the military as a means of boosting recruitment .
According to the latest version of the bill, DREAM Act beneficiaries must have:
During the first six years, the immigrant would be granted "conditional" status, and would be required to graduate from a two-year community college or complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military. After the six year period, an immigrant who meets at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status. During this six year conditional period, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, though they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.
If the immigrant does not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six year time period, their temporary residence would be revoked and he or she would be subject to deportation. They also must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years. Being convicted of a major crime, or drug-related infraction would automatically remove the six year temporary residence status and he or she would be subject to deportation.
If the immigrant meets all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, he or she would be granted a permanent residency, which would eventually allow them to become U.S. citizens.
An estimated 65,000 immigrant students who meet the initial basic requirements graduate from high school each year. However, it is not known how many of those eligible go on to complete the further requirements. It is estimated that currently only 7,000–13,000 college students nationally can fulfill the further obligations, a drastic drop from the already limited pool of those initially eligible.
The text of the bill has also been placed in various other immigration-related bills (none yet successful), including the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611) and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348). With the failure of comprehensive reform, Richard Durbin, the chief proponent of the DREAM Act in the Senate, made its passage a top priority for 2007.
In September 2007, Richard Durbin filed to place the DREAM Act as an amendment to the 2008 Department of Defense Authorization Bill (S. 2919). However, three key points were commonly cited in opposition to the DREAM Act. First, the bill was mischaracterized as requiring states to give in-state tuition to the beneficiaries of the DREAM Act when it only removed ambiguity in a state's right to offer in-state to undocumented students. Second, the legislation did not include an age cap. Finally, the amendment was regarded by opponents as non-germane to defense matters despite the military provision.
In light of the criticism, Richard Durbin tabled the amendment in favor of a rewritten DREAM Act amendment to the Defense Bill. In consideration of their opponents, all language regarding in-state tuition was removed from the amendment and an age cap of 30 was put in place for potential beneficiaries. As for the argument that the amendment was non-germane, proponents cited the Army Times, which stated several senior officials at the Department of Defense have spoken in favor of the DREAM Act, and specifically the bill's promise of legal status to members of the military as a means of boosting recruitment. Nevertheless, the amendment was not brought up for a vote.
On October 18, Richard Durbin,, along with Republican co-sponsors Sen. Charles Hagel and Sen. Richard Lugar, introduced the DREAM Act as S.2205. Though nearly identical to the revised amendment to the Defense Bill, opponents continued to cite previous arguments. In order to bring forth the DREAM Act for debate, a vote was scheduled on October 24 that would require a "filibuster proof" count of 60 yes votes.
While Senate proponents largely cited consistent reasons for passage, a variety of reasons were brought forth in opposition. Some labeled the DREAM Act as amnesty that would only encourage further illegal immigration. Others stated that the DREAM Act, though worthy legislation, should only be enacted as part of a comprehensive immigration reform. In light of the Senate’s failure to successfully pass a single appropriations bill, some Senators stated that the DREAM Act was a distraction to more pressing matters and should rather be considered in January 2008. Finally, debate emerged as to the amendment process for the DREAM Act, specifically, how willing the Democratic leadership would be in allowing debate of Republican amendments.
In a surprise move, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who had previously stated that she would oppose consideration of the DREAM Act, announced on the Senate floor that she had expressed reservations to Sen. Durbin and he had made a verbal commitment to work with her to make changes that she saw necessary to garner greater Republican support. In response, Sen. Durbin announced that the first amendment that would be considered, should debate of the DREAM Act begin, would completely re-write the bill in favor of the language that Sen. Hutchison suggested. According to her suggestions, students should be allowed to hold a temporary student visa with a renewable work permit instead of conditional permanent residency. Although 52 Senators voted in favor of considering the DREAM Act, this fell eight votes short to break filibuster and the legislation was not considered.
In light of recent events, the future of the DREAM Act is uncertain. The Democratic leadership has stated that the DREAM Act is unlikely to be considered until 2009. However, the Democratic leadership has also stated their refusal to consider H1B visa reform (a high-skill temporary visa program) unless the DREAM Act is first passed, leaving an opening for the issue to be addressed sooner. Reform of the H1B visa program is currently of high priority because its cap of 65,000 annual visas is considered by many as being too low. Furthermore, advocates of the DREAM Act have begun discussion of combining the DREAM Act with AgJOBS (Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act) and border enforcement legislation.
BENNET: DREAM ACT GOOD FOR ECONOMY, ARMED FORCES, AMERICAN TAXPAYERS INTRODUCES DREAM ACT TODAY - BILL WILL HELP IMMIGRANT STUDENTS EARN PATH TO LEGAL STATUS.
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DEMOCRAT LEADERS CONTINUE PUSH FOR MASS AMNESTY DREAM ACT DOES NOT REQUIRE HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE, OR MILITARY SERVICE. THOSE ELIGIBLE FOR AMNESTY INCLUDE REPEAT CRIMINAL OFFENDERS.
Dec 08, 2010; WASHINGTON -- The following information was released by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has...