The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act has been proposed in Congress several times before 2017, with the most recent being 2011 (though in 2012 President Obama directed his administration to use the criteria contained in the DREAM Act in determining whether or not to deport young undocumented people). On July 20, 2017, it was introduced again, by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, in a bipartisan initiative, and in a slightly different format than previously proposed.
Graham and Durbin, both members of the “Gang of 8” that authored a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013 yet never made it out of committee, have made it clear that they believe the best way forward is to explore extending Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status to Dreamers (the young people who would be affected by the passage of such a law).
As the law stands right now, undocumented immigrants cannot obtain any type of valid immigrant status—in order to stop accruing unlawful presence, they must leave the country, wait out any bar that accrues (three or ten years), and return with appropriate documentation. Allowing Dreamers to apply for LPR status from within the country would eliminate confusion and time spent on each case—surely a net positive for any administration.
The bill sets out four criteria that must be met in order for someone to be considered a Dreamer under the Act. Someone must (1) be a long-term U.S. resident; (2) either be in school, have graduated with at least a GED, or be in the military; (3) pass a background check showing that they have never committed a serious crime; and (4) be proficient in English and U.S. history, as one might anticipate in a naturalization interview.
If the bill passes, anyone who is undocumented and possesses these characteristics would be invited to apply for LPR status and eventually receive a green card, barring unforeseen problems.
A Race Against Time
Time is of the essence regarding the passage or failure of this bill. The reason is that 10 Republican governors and attorneys general sent a letter to the President on June 30, demanding that his administration cease enforcing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which decides whether or not to deport immigrants based on criteria from the original DREAM Act.
The administration has waffled back and forth on whether or not to retain the program, previously eliminating a sister program of sorts intended for parents of U.S. citizen children, and the cabal of officials is threatening to address the issue in federal court.
The executive branch is likely to oppose the bill, which puts the issue of its passage in jeopardy. Still, it is possible that the President will change his mind, as he is wont to do at times. Either way, it is heartening that there is at least some bipartisan support for immigration reform, as too many lives are affected every time reform is kicked down the proverbial road.
If your family is affected by these issues, it may be a good idea to pay attention to see what happens to Graham and Durbin’s bill.
Consult an Immigration Attorney
If this bill passes, you may need advice on whether or not you and your loved ones qualify. Yet if it does not, it may still be a good idea to ensure that you have plans for your family if federal authorities come calling. The passionate Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help you determine what documents you might need to ensure the best chance of keeping your family together. Call us today for a free consultation.
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