What Is the DREAM Act and Who Are DREAMers?

The Initial DREAM Act S.1291 (2001)

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S.1291) legislation was introduced in 2001 as a bipartisan bill in the Senate.  The legislative goal was to provide a means for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to gain a pathway to permanent legal status; provided those individuals achieved certain milestones, including:

  • Attending or graduating from an institution of higher learning;
  • Be of a certain age to apply;
  • Be physically present in the U.S. for a certain number of years;
  • Have good moral character; and,
  • Not have violated other immigration laws

Individuals who would have qualified under the DREAM Act are often referred to as “DREAMers.”  The term has been used to define individuals in the U.S. who were brought to the country at an early age without documentation but have assimilated to U.S. culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems.

The Senate bill 1291 failed to pass the Senate during the 107th Congress.  However, in subsequent years, legislators have introduced numerous “DREAM Act” bills.  There have been at least 21 subsequent bills attempting to pass a form of relief for DREAMers since its initial introduction in 2001:

  • 2003 – DREAM Act (S.1545), stuck in committee review
  • 2003 – DREAM Act of 2005 (S.2075), stuck in committee review
  • 2005 – American Dream Act (H.R.5131), stuck in committee review
  • 2006 – Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2006, passed Senate
  • 2007 – American Dream Act (H.R.1275), stuck in committee review
  • 2007 – Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act of 2007 (H.R.1645) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2007, stuck in committee review
  • 2007 – DREAM Act of 2007 (S.774), stuck in committee review
  • 2007 – DREAM Act of 2007 (S.2205), failed to pass Senate
  • 2007 – To Provide for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and For Other Purposes(S.1639) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2007, failed to pass Senate
  • 2009 – DREAM Act of 2009 (S.729), stuck in committee review
  • 2009 – American Dream Act (H.R.1751), stuck in committee review
  • 2010 – DREAM Act of 2010 (S.3827), failed to pass Senate
  • 2010 – CIR Act of 2010 (S.3932) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2010, stuck in committee review
  • 2010 – DREAM Act of 2010 (S.3962), failed to pass Senate
  • 2010 – DREAM Act of 2010 (S.3992), failed to pass Senate
  • 2010 – DREAM Act of 2010 (H.R.6497), stuck in committee review
  • 2011 – DREAM Act of 2011 (H.R.1842), stuck in committee review
  • 2011 – DREAM Act of 2011 (S.952), stuck in committee review
  • 2011 – Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 (S.1258) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2011, stuck in committee review
  • 2013 – Border, Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2013, passed Senate, stuck in House
  • 2013 – Border, Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R.15) incorporated provisions of the DREAM Act of 2013, stuck in committee review

While Congress debates issues regarding comprehensive immigration reform, the Department of Homeland Security has implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, effective August 15, 2012, in hopes of providing some form of temporary relief to the DREAMers in the U.S.  You can read more about the DACA Program here.

The DACA Program mirrors many of the requirements first proposed by Senators in the DREAM Act of 2001.  As legislation around this issue evolves, LawLogix will continue to provide more information to our readers.

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