September 15, 2010
The DREAM Act (S.729/H.R.1751)
- The DREAM Act is bipartisan legislation that enables high-achieving young people – immigrants who have been raised here, have worked hard in school, and then pursue higher education or serve in the military – to achieve the American Dream.
Specifically, the bill gives eligible young people who were brought to the U.S. as children the opportunity to resolve their immigration status and work towards citizenship. To move from being undocumented to being a U.S. citizen, those eligible will have to pass background checks and be of good moral character, graduate from high school, and go on to complete additional requirements by either attending college or completing military service.
- The DREAM Act is important for the U.S. Armed Forces – increasing the pool of highly qualified recruits who have completed high school.
- It is estimated that approximately 800,000 young people will benefit from the DREAM Act.
1. The DREAM Act promises to dramatically increase the pool of highly qualified recruits for the U.S. Armed Forces.
The DREAM Act is recommended in the 2010-12 Strategy Plan for the Defense Department’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readinessto help the military “Shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.”
David S. C. Chu, Bush Administration Under Secretary, Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense said, “many of these young people may wish to join the military, and have the attributes needed – education, aptitude, fitness, and moral qualifications. In fact, many are High School Diploma Graduates, and may have fluent language skills — both in English and their native language. Provisions of S. 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform.” 
- There is a strong tradition of military service in immigrant families, but the lack of immigration status prevents many who wish to serve from enlisting. According to Margaret Stock, Lieutenant Colonel (ret.), Military Police Corps, US Army Reserve and Associate Professor of Law, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY – The DREAM Act “would allow military recruiters to enlist this highly qualified cohort of young people, and enactment of the DREAM Act would be a ‘win-win’ scenario for the Department of Defense and the United States. Deporting these young people … deprives the United States of a valuable human asset that can be put to work in the Global War on Terrorism.” 
2. The DREAM Act is supported by 70 percent of likely voters and by leaders in education, the military, business and religious orders.
A national poll of 1,008 adults, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for First Focus in June 2010, shows that support cuts across regional and party lines with 70 percent overall support, 60% support from Republicans and 80% support from Democrats.
University presidents and educational associations, as well as military recruiters, business and religious leaders have called on Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
3. The DREAM Act is a great return on money we have already invested and will prepare the country for the global economy.
The students who would benefit under the DREAM Act have been raised and educated in the U.S. State and local taxpayers have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school. America deserves a return on their investment.
Today’s global economy requires an educated and skilled workforce capable of acquiring, creating, and distributing knowledge. Passage of the DREAM Act will mean a group of talented, multi-lingual and multi-cultural workers will help America compete with innovators throughout the world.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “estimates that many of the occupations that will be most in demand in years to come will rely on highly educated workers. Of the 15 occupations projected to grow at least twice as fast as the national average (13 percent), 10 require an associate degree or higher.” For this reason “it is imperative to develop policies …to help these talented students gain access to postsecondary educational opportunities and the workforce as legal residents.” 
Leading businesses such as Microsoft have endorsed the DREAM Act because they recognize that our broken immigration system is draining our economy of the talent and resources needed to compete in the global economy.
4. Passage of the DREAM Act will reduce high school dropout rates and enable more students to attend college.
- Foreign-born students represent a significant and growing percentage of the current student population. Unfortunately, immigration status and the associated barriers to higher education contribute to a higher-than-average high dropout rate, which costs taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars each year. The DREAM Act would eliminate these barriers for many students, and the DREAM Act’s high school graduation requirement would provide a powerful incentive for students who might otherwise drop out to stay in school and graduate.
5. Passage of the DREAM Act will increases revenues in our communities.
- Enabling 800,000 immigrant students access to higher education would go a long way in inspiring other immigrant youth to strive for a college education. This will help boost the number of high skilled American-raised workers. As they take their place in the workplace as hard working, taxpaying Americans, they will contribute a lifetime of revenues at the local, state and federal level.
 [CQ Congressional Testimony; ‘Immigration and the Military’; July 10, 2006]
 Margaret Stock, The DREAM Act: Tapping an overlooked pool of homegrown talent to meet military enlistment needs, (Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, January 15, 2006).
 Roberto Gonzales, Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students, (College Board Advocacy, April 2009).
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The Dream Act is a bill proposed to the United States Senate in August 2001. The purpose of the bill is to provide a legal basis for a mechanism that will enable undocumented immigrants who are within a specified age range to attain permanent residency of the U.S. by first fulfilling certain conditions. Dream Act stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. Even though this bill has been reintroduced several times after its initial introduction, it is yet to pass.
Proposed Mechanism and Requirements
The bill is proposed for a two stage acquisition of permanent residency. The first a temporary residency permit upon meeting specified conditions and the permanent residency is gained after having fulfilled a set of further requirements. In order to acquire temporary residency under the proposed terms of the Document, one would have to fulfil the following conditions: provide documentary evidence that they entered into the country aged below sixteen years of age and have been resident in the country for a minimum of five years, must have graduated from a high school in the U.S. or be in possession of a General Education Development certificate; show good moral behaviour and be certified free of a criminal history. A would-be beneficiary having attained temporary residency can qualify for permanent residency after six years if the following conditions are met: must have graduated from a higher institution or serve in the United States military for a minimum of two years and achieve an honourable discharge; be free of any criminal record; and be of good moral conduct.
Opposition and Criticism of the Act
Critics as well as opponents of the proposed bill have raised doubts about its potential benefits and expressed reservations as to its potential for criminal abuse and possible compromise of the American immigration system. Much of the criticisms have centred on its perception as the equivalent of an ‘amnesty’ program and tacit approval of illegal immigration into the United States, thus creating room for criminal elements to be legally shielded from deportation.
Arguments of those Who Support the Bill
Those who favour the bill offer a number of arguments, chiefly highlighting what they perceive as the potential benefits of the bill. Proponents of the bill are of the opinion that it will - in the near term or on the long run - be beneficial for the country’s education, economy and the military because it targets only the brightest of young people who have already been living in the U.S. They describe the act as a logical one considering the fact that many of its proposed beneficiaries have been living in the U.S without having chosen to do so because they were brought in by their parents.