[Washington]- This week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the DREAM Act of 2017, a bill that would offer a path to citizenship for millions of young immigrants. The reintroduction of the DREAM Act is a response to the recent court challenge to the Department of Justice’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently allows 800,000 immigrant youth to work and study without fear of deportation. The bill goes beyond the bipartisan BRIDGE Act, introduced earlier this year by Durbin and Graham, which would have simply codified the DACA program into law.
The DREAM Act of 2017 would qualify DREAMers under the age of 18 for conditional residence status if they have lived in the U.S. for at least 4 years prior to the enactment of the law and meet certain educational and legal criteria. The bill would also provide this population a path to legal permanent resident status and, ultimately, citizenship based on similar criteria over a defined period of time. Importantly, this version of the DREAM Act, for the first time, provides young immigrants the opportunity to qualify for citizenship through employment, in addition to qualifying through higher education and military service.
“Young Invincibles supports giving DREAMers the chance to stay permanently in the U.S. and to provide a path to citizenship, as do the majority of American voters,” said Young Invincibles’ Press Secretary, Allie Aguilera. “Every year 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, but are largely ineligible for in-state tuition and financial aid to continue their educations because of their immigration status. Despite these barriers, young immigrants continue to contribute to our communities and economy enormously. The reintroduction of the DREAM Act is an important step in allowing this population to fulfill its potential. We urge the Senate to take up this legislation and provide relief to millions of young people who are studying, working, and serving here in America, and while that process is unfolding, DACA must be preserved.”