Just the Facts

Five Facts on the History of the DREAM Act

By No Labels
June 27, 2019 | Blog

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) serves as a pathway to citizenship.

The DREAM Act is a legislative proposal to grant residency status to undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors. The Act would grant Conditional Permanent Residency status to applicants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and attended U.S. schools. After six years, applicants who attend a U.S. higher education institution or enter military service can apply for a permanent green card.[1]

The first DREAM Act was introduced in 2001.

The first version of the DREAM Act was introduced in 2001.[2]  If passed, the bill would have restored in-state tuition benefits to certain college-bound undocumented students and allowed undocumented students to apply for deportation relief if they met a set of requirements. To be eligible for deportation relief, students would have to apply within two years of the DREAM Act’s passage, be under 21 years of age, be enrolled in a higher education institution in the U.S., be continuously present in the U.S. for a minimum of five years and be of good moral character. [3]

There have been 10 versions of the DREAM Act in 18 years. 

Since first being introduced, The DREAM Act has tended to garner primarily Democratic support. The Republicans who do not support the DREAM Act view it as an “amnesty bill” that rewards illegal behavior. There have been efforts to attach the DREAM Act to other legislation to increase bipartisan support. In 2007 there was an attempt to add the DREAM Act as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, at a time of low military enlistment rates. But the amendment did not succeed.[4]

DACA and the DREAM Act are not the same.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was implemented in 2012 through an executive order issued by President Barack Obama. DACA provides temporary relief from deportation for DREAMers but does not provide a legal path to citizenship. If the DREAM Act were passed by Congress, it would provide a legal path to citizenship for eligible recipients.[5]

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 passed in the House on June 4th.

The Act passed the Democratic-led House with 237 to 187 votes and will move to the Senate, although it appears unlikely to pass. All 230 House Democrats and 7 House Republicans voted to pass the bill. If implemented, this piece of legislation would make the 700,000 DACA recipients, as well as 1.6 million other immigrants, eligible to apply for permanent legal status. [6]


[1]https://www.nafsa.org/uploadedFiles/NAFSA_Home/Resource_Library_Assets/Public_Policy/DREAM%20ActQA510.pdf

[2]https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-reform-and-executive-actions/dreamact/dream-justfacts-2010-11-23/

[3]https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/senate-bill/1291/text

[4]https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB119034142441734839

[5]https://www.npr.org/2017/09/05/548754723/5-things-you-should-know-about-daca

[6]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/us/politics/dream-promise-act.html

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