I keep getting anti-immigration emails from right wing groups claiming all sorts of things about The Dream Act. As someone who supports a free market and free people, I think this is a good bill. It still has too much bureaucracy and doesn't apply to enough immigrants however.
Most of the right wing groups emails that I am getting claim that this is a give away of student aid and provides free college tuition. The bill has none of that in it. In fact it limits financial aid to loans only, work study, and Title IV aid. This is all subject to the same rules as any other student and does not provide for any special aid for illegal immigrants.
Immigrants who take advantage of the Dream Act are given a 10 year conditional non-immigrant status. They are no longer eligible if they "become a public charge" (i.e. become dependent on the state). Eligibility is removed for a list of other reasons.
Establishes a 10-year period of conditional nonimmigrant status which shall include employment authorization. Terminates such status if the alien: (1) becomes a public charge; (2) receives a dishonorable or other than honorable military discharge; or (3) ceases to be a person of good moral character, becomes inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds, has participated in racial, religious, social, or political persecution, or has been convicted of certain federal or state offenses. - S3992 Summary 11/30/2010
The DREAM ACT:
1. Does not repeal the ban on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The DREAM Act does not force states to charge in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. The DREAM Act possibly would allow illegal immigrants to gain access to Federal Pell Grants and other financial aid.
2. Lowers the age cap for eligibility for the DREAM Act to 29 on the date of enactment. Additionally, in order to be eligible, individuals still must have come to the U.S. as a child (15 or under) and be a long-term resident (at least 5 years). An earlier version of the DREAM Act (S. 1545 in the 108th Congress), authored by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and cosponsored by Senator John McCain, did not include any age cap. This bill was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on a 16-3 vote.
3. Does not grant legal immigrant status to anyone for at least 2 years. Previous versions of the DREAM Act would have immediately granted legal immigrant status to individuals who met the bill’s requirements. Under S. 3992, an individual could obtain “conditional nonimmigrant” status if he proves that he meets the age (currently 29 or under and arrived in the U.S. at 15 or under) and residency requirements (5 years or more) and:
- Has graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED;
- Has been a person of “good moral character,” as determined by the Department of Homeland Security, from the date the individual initially entered the U.S. (previous versions of the DREAM Act only required an individual to be a person of good moral character from the date of the bill’s enactment);
- Submits biometric information;
- Undergoes security and law-enforcement background checks;
- Undergoes a medical examination; and
- Registers for the Selective Service.
4. Further limits eligibility for conditional nonimmigrant status by specifically excluding anyone who:
- Has committed one felony or three misdemeanors;
- Is likely to become a public charge;
- Has engaged in voter fraud or unlawful voting;
- Has committed marriage fraud;
- Has abused a student visa;
- Has engaged in persecution; or
- Poses a public health risk.
5. Gives a conditional non-immigrant the chance to earn legal immigrant status only after 2 years and only if he meets the DREAM Act’s college or military service requirements, and other requirements, e.g., pays back taxes and demonstrates the ability to read, write, and speak English and demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States.
6. Further limits “chain migration.” DREAM Act individuals would have very limited ability to sponsor family members for U.S. citizenship. They could never sponsor extended family members and they could not begin sponsoring parents or siblings for at least 12 years. Parents and siblings who entered the U.S. illegally would have to leave the country for ten years before they could gain legal status and the visa backlog for siblings is decades long.
7. Specifically excludes non-immigrants from the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Conditional non-immigrants also would be ineligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps and other entitlement programs.
8. Establishes a one-year application deadline. An individual would be required to apply for conditional nonimmigrant status within one year of obtaining a high school degree or GED, being admitted to college, or the bill’s date of enactment.
9. Requires anyone applying for the DREAM Act to show that he is likely to qualify in order to receive a stay of deportation while his application is pending. The DREAM Act is not a safe harbor from deportation.
10. Requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide information from an individual’s DREAM Act application to any federal, state, tribal, or local law enforcement agency, or intelligence or national security agency in any criminal investigation or prosecution or for homeland security or national security purposes.
11. Places the burden of proof on a DREAM Act applicant. An individual would be required to demonstrate eligibility for the DREAM Act by a preponderance of the evidence.