Senator Durbin (D-Illinois), along with Senator Graham (R-South Carolina), has re-introduced the Dream Act, legislation to streamline the immigration process for young people who have lived in the United States since childhood. It was first introduced in 2001 and despite broad bi-partisan support, it is not yet law.
The Dream Act offers lawful residence and a path to citizenship for young longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children. To qualify, they must graduate from high school or obtain a GED and either pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military. Each must pass security and law enforcement background checks (and not have committed a felony or other serious crime) and pay a reasonable application fee. English language proficiency and a knowledge of United States history are additional requirements.
The Dream Act allows our communities to realize the potential of their young members by transitioning them to earned citizenship and securing their place as members of that community. The people who benefit from the Dream Act have progressed through neighborhood schools and moved on to higher education or to successful employment; welcoming these young people with a clear path to citizenship recognizes not only their investment in us but also honors our investment in them.
The Dream Act is a bi-partisan effort to extend the positive impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which set up a system for deportation relief and work permits for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. DACA has been shown to improve incomes and strengthen the labor force. In addition to the support of immigration rights and immigration reform groups, the Dream Act enjoy the support of educators at every level across many states, the business community, the U.S. military, local governments and a variety of organizations working in social service. DACA also reduces the strain on immigration enforcement resources.
Chicago Appleseed wholly supports efforts and initiatives to make our communities stable and supportive of everyone who lives in them. We appreciate Senator Durbin’s work to pass the Dream Act.