The DREAM Act of 2021 is Biden's comprehensive plan for immigration during his presidency. The DREAM Act has a long history of providing opportunities for immigrants, but how has it changed over the years, and what makes this version different?
A Brief History
The DREAM Act was first proposed to Congress in 2001 by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Orrin Hatch of Utah. The bill was called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. Initially, the bill offered lawful status to qualifying immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 16.
Unfortunately, the 2001 draft of the bill was not passed, neither were the versions in 2003, 2005, 2007, or 2010. The DREAM Act was introduced as an add-on to other bills or an element of a defense authorization bill. However, none of the attempts to pass the DREAM Act through Congress and the Senate succeeded.
Now, the Biden Administration is proposing a new take on the DREAM Act with the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021. This bill promises pathways to citizenship for DREAMERs. So who are the DREAMERs, and what does President Biden promise? '
DREAMERs is a broad title for young undocumented immigrants born abroad but brought to the United States as children. Typically, if a child is born in the United States, they have citizenship by birth, but DREAMERs are born abroad. Additionally, if their parents enter the United States illegally, they grow up without citizenship or any legal status.
To try and help these children, the Obama Administration created DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to help DREAMERs obtain immigration status and avoid deportation as long as they satisfy the program's requirements. DACA has protected over 700,000 immigrant children.
Unfortunately, the DACA program has also encountered challenges along the way. In 2017, former President Trump issued an order to end the DACA program. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration used improper procedure to end DACA, but they have not decided whether DACA is valid or suggested that it could not be repealed later on.
While the DREAM Act is different from DACA in that it provides immigration status instead of deferred action, the DACA program's success has proven to be an indicator for the success of future immigration proposals.
What Will the DREAM Act of 2021 Do?
The newest iteration of the DREAM Act would allow DREAMERs to apply for conditional permanent residence, then lawful permanent residence, and eventually, citizenship by naturalization. The entire process would take years, but the goal is to provide sustainable immigration status when these children become adults.
Other promises in the DREAM Act of 2021:
- DREAMERs are protected from deportation
- DACA recipients could receive temporary protected status
- DREAMERs with conditional permanent residents would qualify for lawful permanent status
So far, the DREAM Act of 2021 has yet to pass in the Senate, but politicians, advocates, and supporters are optimistic that the bill could pass soon. President Biden has promised to sign the bill into law as soon as it gets approval.
In the meantime, millions of undocumented children will have to wait and see what may happen to them. To provide temporary protection for these children until the DREAM Act passes, the government is accepting DACA applications.
For more information regarding DACA applications, please visit here.
If you have questions about immigration status, citizenship, or DACA, don't hesitate to contact Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. for more information.