The Misconceptions and Hope of the Dream Act

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The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act is a proposed piece of legislation which would offer some undocumented students conditional permanent residency. The bill would be available for students of good moral character who arrived in the US as minors, who have lived in the US for an extended period of time, and who are undocumented. Under the DREAM Act, qualified students who completed at least two years at a qualified four year school or two years of military service would get a six year temporary permanent residency, paving the way to documented permanent residency. Students who qualified would be allowed to apply for a permanent green card to remain in the US.

The idea behind the DREAM Act is that minors should not be punished for the immigration mistakes of their families. The proposed legislation would also give legal status to undocumented students and would make them productive members of society. Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about the DREAM Act, believing that it would encourage illegal immigration or would remove jobs or money from Americans and legal US residents. Experts agree that this is not the case. According to a Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation 2010 report, the DREAM Act would improve the economy by increasing government revenues by $2.3 billion and reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion between 2011 and 2020. As well, the DREAM Act would only be available for those already in the US, and thus would not encourage illegal immigration. As well, by providing a boost to the economy and making some undocumented workers legal workers, the DREAM Act could improve the job situation for all documented workers in the US.As well, students who gained conditional residency for attending college or serving in the armed forces would not qualify for federal benefits and would not be allowed to sponsor family to the US.

There is hope that the DREAM Act is gaining some support. In California in July 2011, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) has proposed AB 130, part of the California Dream Act. The bill gives undocumented students the right to secure private scholarships for college and university, although these students remain ineligible for state and federal funding. In Oklahoma, DREAM Act Oklahoma is a group advocating for the rights of undocumented students, which make up less than 1% of enrollment at universities and colleges in that state.