Every year in Pennsylvania, around 850 undocumented students graduate from high school - only to realize that their diplomas do not ensure access to higher education. Nationwide, 50,000 - 65,000 of these students will graduate this year.
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would remove barriers to education and provide a path toward legal residency for U.S.-raised immigrant students who lack legal immigration status. This bill is narrowly tailed to cover students who were brought here as children and grew up in the United States but now are in limbo, without hope of realizing their dreams for higher education.
The DREAM Act would permit some immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for conditional legal status and eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for citizenship if they meet certain conditions.
The DREAM Act was introduced in the 111th Congress in March of 2009. The Senate Bill (S.729) was introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and has 32 co-sponsors. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House Bill (H.R. 1751) was introduced by Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) and has 106 co-sponsors.
Our communities, state and nation would reap significant benefits, including reduced high school dropout rates; and increased revenue from taxes paid by these educated immigrants.
The fiscal contributions of these young people would pay back our education investment within 3-4 years of their working, by conservative estimates.
According to the 1999 RAND Study, high school dropouts cost approximately $3,900 more each year in criminal and social services, while College graduates earn approximately $13,000 more a year and contribute $5,300 more each year in taxes – a more than $9,000 fiscal benefit per year!
High school guidance counselors, university presidents, elected officials, and community leaders support the DREAM Act because they can see the real benefit it would have.
The Pentagon supports the DREAM Act.
The basic structure of the DREAM Act would grant conditional status for 6 years to immigrant student who:
- entered the U.S. before age 16
- have at least 5 years residency in the U.S.
- have good moral character
- have graduated high school in the U.S. or obtained a GED in the U.S.
In order to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status, by the end of the 6 year period of conditional status, DREAM students must:
- Complete two years of university or community college
- Serve two years in the U.S. military