Lawmakers Just Introduced a Dream Act Bill. What Does It Mean for You?


Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced(1) a bipartisan bill called the Dream Act of 2017. A bill that, if passed, would offer a route to permanent legal status for millions of undocumented immigrant youth. The bill comes as ten anti-immigrant Attorneys General sent(2) a letter to Donald Trump threatening to sue if he doesn’t end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by September 5, 2017 — a program that has protected nearly 800,000 young people like me from deportation.

Remember, Dream Act or not, we must continue to protect DACA and TPS.

Here are 4 key things that you should know about the bill and the fight ahead.

1. The strongest version of the Dream Act.Previous versions of this bill required that immigrant youth either joined the military or finished at least two years of higher education. The new version of the Dream Act, expands eligibility to new categories which includes creating a route to citizenship through employment as well as providing hardship exception for full-time caregivers of minor children.

 In addition, this new bill raises the age of entry requirement to 18 years of age. Meaning that to qualify you must have entered the U.S. before your 18th birthday. Previous versions limited this age to 16 years of age.

2. Recipients of DACA would receive immediate protection under this bill.

If this bill were to pass, the legal status of DACA recipients would change from DACA to what is referred to as Conditional Permanent Residency or CPR. Those who have not been able to apply for DACA will need to apply for CPR status and pay a ‘reasonable application fee’.

Conditional Permanent Residency status would last for 8 years and would come with work authorization. After maintaining CPR status for 8 years, an applicant can then apply for Legal Permanent Residency or LPR status by one of four ways:

Work track: Demonstrates employment over a total period of 3 years

Higher education: Completes at least 2 years of higher education.

Military service: Completes at least 2 years of military service or receive an honorable discharge.

Waiver: Receiving a “hardship waiver” that exempts an applicant from having to follow the tracks outlined above.

 After maintaining Legal Permanent Residency status for five years, the applicant will be able to apply for citizenship.

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