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DREAM ACT ALERT:  On August 15, 2012  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced.  Take the  Free DACA Eligibility Quiz here to Apply for Deferred Action.


The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001. The bill was re-introduced in the US Senate recently on May 11, 2011.

This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal and deportable alien students who

  • graduate from US high schools
  • who are of good moral character
  • arrived in the US legally or illegally as minors
  • have been in the US continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.

If students were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, they would obtain temporary residency for a six year period.

Within the six year period, the student

  • should have got a degree from an institution of higher education in the US or completed at least 2 years in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the US OR
  • should have served in the armed services for at least 2 years and
  • if discharged, received an honorable discharge.

Military enlistment contracts generally require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments between four and six years, but as low as two years.

During this six year conditional period, though they will not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, they can apply for student loans and work study. If they meet all the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, they would be granted permanent residency, which eventually will allow them to qualify for American citizenship.

Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated will return to the immigration status he/she had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under the DREAM Act.

In a December 2010 report, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the November 30th, 2010 version of the DREAM act would reduce deficits by about $1.4 billion over 2011-2020 and would increase government revenues by $2.3 billion over the next ten years.

The same report, however, estimates that the Act would increase projected deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one of the four consecutive ten-year periods starting in 2021. A recent study shows that between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion taxable income would be generated over a 40 year period based upon estimates ranging between 825,000 and 2.1 million potential DREAM Act beneficiaries successfully obtaining legal status in the US. However, a study by the Center for Immigration Studies estimates the Act will cost US taxpayers $6.2 billion a year.

Under the 2009 version of the Senate bill, DREAM Act beneficiaries should:

  • have proof of having arrived in the US before age 16.
  • have proof of residence in the US for at least five consecutive years since their date of arrival.
  • have registered with the Selective Service (if male).
  • be between the ages of 12 and 30 at the time of the DREAM Act enactment.
  • have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED, or have been admitted to an institution of higher education.
  • be of “good moral character”.

Though it is not known how many of those were eligible go on to complete the further requirements, one organization estimated that only 7,000–13,000 college students nationally can satisfy the further obligations. Another analysis found that over 2 million illegal aliens could benefit under the Act.

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