By Roosevelt Institute |

dictionary-150[Note: Updated on 2.16.2011]

What is the DREAM Act?

The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act is proposed federal legislation that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or at college. Eligible students must have entered the US before the age of 16, been living in the US for at least five consecutive years, be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of applying, and have good moral character. The legislation was first introduced in the Senate in August 2001 and most recently re-introduced in the Senate and House in March 2009.

What’s the significance?

Children brought into the country without immigration visas have no method to obtain permanent citizen status other than through their parents. Normally they have to return to their country of birth to apply for a permanent visa, with no guarantee of eventual citizenship and many potential roadblocks to returning to the US. The Act would give them a chance to stay in the country while giving back through education and service.  It was brought to a vote during the 2010 lame duck session, but failed to achieve cloture.

Who’s talking about it?

Harry Reid fulfilled his promise to bring the DREAM Act to a vote during the lame duck session, but it failed, 55-41…A group of Hispanic Republicans came out in favor of the act, saying it is not an entitlement program…Mike Huckabee defended DREAM Act students after Ann Coulter claimed it will subsidize illegitimacy…Daniel Altschuler drew some lessons from the DREAM Act’s defeat…Harold Meyerson wondered how long Republicans can afford to keep blocking reform.

The Roosevelt Institute brings together thousands of thinkers and doers—from emerging leaders in every state to Nobel laureate economists. We reimagine the rules that guide our social and economic realities. Follow us on Twitter @rooseveltinst and like us on Facebook.