More Information Monday: The DREAM Act

More Information Monday: The DREAM Act

First issue of 2018:  The DREAM Act


What is the DREAM act?

The DREAM act is the legislation that is being debated in Congress regarding immigrants who came to this country as children and have only ever really known the United States as their home country.  It stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, and was first introduced to Congress in 2001.  Over the past 17 years, various parts and different variations have received support from BOTH Republicans and Democrats (yes, this is actually possible) but has never ACTUALLY been passed by Congress.

Source: 1

So if this EVER does get passed, do all those people just become citizens?

No.  Not even close.  First, it would only apply to those who arrived in the United States before they turned 16.  Then, those who qualify would have to have lived here for 5 years, earned a high school diploma or GED, registered with Selective Service (which is the draft), and were between the age of 12 and 35 when the bill passes.  The applicant can not have committed any serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, pose any security threats, or provide any false documentation.

Once the applicant meets these qualifications, they could earn a 5-year temporary residency, and THEN they can apply for citizenship.  (The explanation of that process was Simple Sourced here – spoiler alert: it’s NOT a simple process!).

Source: 1 and 2

How is the DREAM act different than DACA (and what is that while we’re at it)?

In June 2012, President Obama passed an executive order (we Simple Sourced what those are here) called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  In that order, it allowed for illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before 16 to apply for legal status before they turned 30, as long as they met education or military requirements, had not been convicted of any crimes or misdemeanors, and posed no security issues.  The act did not give them citizenship, but rather deferred them from any deportation.

This was an executive order, not legislation that went through Congress.  Therefore, in September 2017, President Trump announced that he was ending any DACA programs and that the pressure would be put on Congress to negotiate the DREAM act.

Source: 1, 3 and 5

Is this why I have been hearing so much about this lately?

Yes.  When President Trump ended the DACA program, he basically turned to Congress and said “Tag! You’re it!”

In the latest budget negotiations (i.e. the one the shut down the government for a few days), the DREAM act was a key element to the debate.  In fact, Democrats only agreed to the proposed budget negotiations after Sen. McConnell promised to consider legislation for young immigrants following the passing of the budget bill.

Source: 3 and 4

So what happens now?

Now we wait to see what happens in Congress in the next few months after the promise of legislation over this matter.

Source: 4  

Click below to see what both sides have to say in this debate on Two-Sided Tuesday!


(1) DREAM Act.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.

(2) Jost, Kenneth. “Immigration Conflict.” CQ Researcher Online, 9 Mar. 2012, Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.

(3) Romo, Vanessa, et al. “Trump Ends DACA, Calls On Congress To Act.” National Public Radio, 5 Sept.2017, Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.

(4) Sandberg, Sheryl Gay, et al. “Stopgap Bill to End Government Shutdown Passes Congress.” The New York  Times, 22 Jan. 2018, Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.

(5) “Immigration Policy: Do Stringent Immigration Policies Benefit the United States?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase Learning, 26 Jan. 2018, Accessed 3 Feb. 2018.