Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Calif) voted in favor of Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (H.R. 5281) which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented young adults who either complete two years of college or serve in the military. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 216-198. The legislation has been endorsed by the Secretary of Defense and the Pentagon because of the benefit to military readiness.
"As a long time supporter of the DREAM Act, I am so pleased that the House has at long last passed the legislation. By providing a path to citizenship for undocumented young adults who attend college or serve in our military, we are recognizing the commitment they are making to this country. It simply does not make sense to deny young adults, brought to this country as minors by their parents, the opportunity to further their education or protect our country. In fact, the resulting increase in tax revenue generated by providing a path to citizenship for young adults will reduce the deficit over the next ten years," said Capps.
The DREAM Act would only grant "conditional nonimmigrant" status to undocumented young adults if they meet all of the following requirements: brought to the United States at 15 years old or younger, currently 29 years old or younger, has lived in the United States for at least five years before the enactment of the law, has graduated from high school (GED) or is enrolled in an institution of higher education, has been a person of "good moral character" as defined by United States immigration laws, completes law enforcement background check, undergoes a medical examination, registers for Selective Service, and pays a surcharge in connection with the application.
After five years of conditional status, DREAM Act participants must apply for an extension of their conditional status. In order to qualify for an extension, one must have demonstrated good moral character, earned a degree from an institution of higher learning, completed at least two years of post-secondary education, or served in the military for two years.
After ten years of conditional status applicants are able to earn lawful permanent resident status. During the period of ten years in which young adults are conditional immigrants DREAM Act participants are not permitted to receive federal government subsidies to participate in the state health insurance exchanges that go into effect in 2014. They are also ineligible for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), federal Pell Grants, and other entitlement and grant programs. (Note: Unlike the California Dream Act which has been considered in California, young adults in conditional status are not eligible for federal college assistance)