What is the Dream Act of 2017 and the Recognizing America's Children Act?
This guide provides a brief overview of the recently introduced legislation, Dream Act of 2017 in the Senate, and the Recognizing America's Children Act in the House of Representatives. It details the importance of these two bills and how it can help shape the future of young immigrants in the U.S.
What is the Dream Act of 2017?The Dream Act of 2017 ("Act"), introduced by Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), will grant conditional permanent resident status for certain long-term residents who entered the United States as children, in response to a move by a group of state Attorney Generals who have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if DACA isn't ended by September 5, 2017. As of this writing, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have also joined as co-sponsors.
What is DACA?Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiated by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. It stays the removal (deportation) of certain persons. It is a discretionary, limited immigration benefit by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and does not provide lawful status. For more on DACA, follow this link to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) dedicated web page.
Who is eligible for the Dream Act?The law will cancel the removal and grant lawful permanent resident status (green card) on a conditional basis to an undocumented person or DACA recipient who:
1) has been continuously physically present in the U.S. for 4 years preceding the date of enactment;
was 17 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S.;
2) is not inadmissible on the following grounds: criminal, security and terrorism, smuggling, student visa abuse, ineligibility for citizenship, polygamy, international child abduction, or unlawful voting;
has not participated in persecution;
3) has not been convicted of: any federal or state offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year (other than a state offense for which an essential element is the person's immigration status), or 3 or more federal or state offenses (other than state offenses for which an essential element is the alien's immigration status) for which the person was convicted on different dates and imprisoned for an aggregate of 90 days or more; and
4) has been admitted to an institution of higher education, or has graduated from high school or obtained a GED or a high school equivalency diploma, or is enrolled in secondary school or in an education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or in passing a GED or equivalent exam.
How is this law different from DACA?Unlike DACA, which does not confer legal immigration status, the Dream Act of 2017 will grant legal permanent resident status to eligible individuals on a conditional basis.
Dream Act Bill HighlightsHere are a few highlights:
1) Inadmissibility bars may be waived for humanitarian purposes, family unity, or if the waiver is otherwise in the public interest.
2) Biometrics capture and background checks will be undertaken to determine whether there is any criminal, national security, or other factors that would render the person ineligible for the conditional green card. A medical examination will also be required.
3) For children enrolled in school who are at least 5 years old and who would be eligible for a green card under the Act, removal shall be stayed. The stay can be lifted if the person ceases to meet eligibility requirements.
4) There is no numerical limitation on the number of people who may be granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis under the Act.
5) Conditional permanent residency under the Act is valid for 8 years.
6) Special Hardship Exception for a person with a disability or a full-time caregiver of a minor child; or the person's removal from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to the person or the person's U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.
What is the Recognizing America's Children Act?Recognizing America's Children Act ("RAC") was introduced by Republican Representative, Carlos Curbelo from Florida on March 9, 2017. Similar to the Dream Act of 2017, this legislation would allow the cancellation of removal and grant conditional residency to undocumented individuals who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children. Unlike the Dream Act, the conditional residency period is 5 years, instead of 8 years. As of this writing, the bill already has 17 Republican co-sponsors.