On December 8, the U.S. House passed the DREAM Act, a measure that would allow thousands of undocumented youth to continue their education and earn a path to citizenship. It has been nine years since the DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress. Now, it seems that the bill has a real chance of passing in both the House and Senate. If the DREAM Act does pass, it would mean that over 2 million undocumented youth will finally be able to get on a clear path to U.S. citizenship.
However, in order to bring Republican lawmakers to the table, two significant aspects of DREAM have been compromised. One component is the age cap, which went from 34 to 29. This means that undocumented people who have already gotten a college degree and are older than 29 will not be able to apply for citizenship under the DREAM Act. The other major compromise is moving the conditional status period from 6 years to 10, which means that people will not be able to apply for residency until after ten years of being under conditional status and meeting all other requirements. These compromises are a bit discouraging, but from a political standpoint, it could also mean that conservatives do understand that Latinos and immigrants have become a major voting bloc. While they are not willing to give immigrants benefits now, politicians do realize that they must learn how to incorporate them to their political realm.
Despite the major compromises to the DREAM Act, advocates are still excited by the news that it passed in the House.We should continue our work and capitalize on the fact that this is the first time that we have gotten this close to make DREAM a reality.
But we still have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. The Alliance for a Just Society encourages people to call their Senators and ask them to support making education possible for everyone who wants it by passing the DREAM Act. If a Senator already supports the DREAM Act, we should ask them to talk to their fellow Senators and ask for their support. At this point, there is a narrow window of time, but if we escalate our efforts, we may be able to push the DREAM act to passage. Let’s not wait another 9 years—let’s pass the DREAM Act NOW.