From the White House Blog:
Congress is preparing to vote on the DREAM Act in the coming days, so we thought it would be good to lay out what it means for our nation. The DREAM Act is common-sense legislation drafted by both Republicans and Democrats that would give students who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our countryâ€™s well-being by serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing a higher education. Itâ€™s good for our economy, our security, and our nation. Thatâ€™s why the DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Itâ€™s limited, targeted legislation that will allow only the best and brightest young people to earn their legal status after a rigorous and lengthy process, and applies to those brought to the United States as minors through no fault of their own by their parents, and who know no other home.
On Monday afternoon, the White House reiterated the President’s commitment to the DREAM Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation designed to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by giving them the chance to obtain legal status by pursuing a higher education, or by serving in the U.S. armed forces for the country they’ve grown up in and love as their own.
Thanks to the participation of young people from all over the country, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Cecilia Munoz took great questions on whether the legislation would encourage people to come to the United States illegally (it would not) and whether the DREAM Act can be implemented by the President via Executive Order (it cannot, which is why he is strongly urging Congress to do the right thing by passing it).
Monday’s webchat is part of the President’s ongoing commitment to engage with young people all over the country. If you’d like to be added to the White House youth engagement distribution list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the chat on the bipartisan DREAM Act to give young people the chance to obtain legal status by pursuing a higher education, or by serving in the U.S. armed forces for the country they’ve grown up in and love as their own.
THE DREAM ACT: GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY, GOOD FOR OUR SECURITY,Â GOOD FOR OUR NATION
The DREAM Act is common-sense legislation drafted by both Republicans and Democrats that would give students who grew up in the United States a chance to contribute to our countryâ€™s well-being by serving in the U.S. armed forces or pursuing a higher education. Itâ€™s good for our economy, our security, and our nation. Thatâ€™s why the DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Itâ€™s limited, targeted legislation that will allow only the best and brightest young people to earn their legal status after a rigorous and lengthy process, and applies to those brought to the United States as minors through no fault of their own by their parents, and who know no other home.
Our country will reap enormous benefits when the DREAM Act is finally enacted:
- The DREAM Act will contribute to our militaryâ€™s recruitment efforts and readiness.Secretary of Defense Gates has written to DREAM Act sponsors citing the rich precedent of non-citizens serving in the U.S. military and stating that â€œthe DREAM Act represents an opportunity to expand [the recruiting] pool, to the advantage of military recruiting and readiness.â€Â The DREAM Act is also a part of the Department of Defense’s 2010-2012 Strategic PlanÂ to assist the military in its recruiting efforts.
- The DREAM Act will make our country more competitive in the global economy.Â Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated that passing the DREAM Act will allow â€œthese young people to live up to their fullest potential and contribute to the economic growth of our country.â€Â In particular, the DREAM Act will play an important part in the nationâ€™s efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020,â€ something vital for America to remain competitive in todayâ€™s global economy.
- The DREAM Act will have important economic benefits.Â According to a recent UCLA study, students that would be impacted by the DREAM Act could add between $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of careers, depending on how many ultimately gain legal status.Â This income is substantially higher than the income they would earn if they were unable to attend and complete a college education.Â In fact, research indicates that the average college graduate earned nearly 60 percent more than a high-school graduate.Â We have much to gain from doing right by these young people.Â Â Â
- The DREAM Act will allow our immigration and border security experts to focus on those who pose a serious threat to our nationâ€™s security.Â Secretary Napolitano believes this targeted legislation provides a firm but fair way to deal with innocent children brought to the U.S. at a young age so that the Department of Homeland Security can dedicate their enforcement resources to detaining and deporting criminals and those who pose a threat to our country.Â
Myths vs. Facts: DREAM Act
As the public debate on the DREAM Act moves forward, it is vital that the facts on this important legislation remain clear. The Dream Act is good for our economy, our security, and our nation. And the lenghty and rigorous process the DREAM Act establishes will ensure that our nation is enriched with only the most promising young people who have already grown up in America. In fact, according to a recent analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, just 38 percent of all potential beneficiaries will successfully complete the DREAM Actâ€™s rigorous process and earn permanent immigration status.
Myth:Â Opponents claim the DREAM Act is â€œamnesty.â€
Fact:Â The Dream Act requires responsibility and accountability of young people who apply to adjust their status under the DREAM Act, creating a lenghty and rigorous process.
- Young people must meet several requirements in order to qualify for the conditional status it will provide them.Â These requirements include entering the country when they were under 16 years old, proving they have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years and graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED; demonstrating their good moral character; proving they have not committed any crimes that would make them inadmissible to the country. Only then can they obtain a conditional status for a limited period of time.Â
- After their six year conditional status, these same individuals will need to meet additional requirements to move on to the next phase of this process.Â Specifically, they must have attended college or served in the U.S. military for at least 2 years, and once again, pass criminal background checks, and demonstrate good moral character. If young people are unable to fulfillthese requirements, they will lose their legal status and be subject to deportation.
- Only applies to individuals who entered the U.S. as children.Â According to DREAM Actâ€™s provisions, beneficiaries must have entered the United States when they were under 16 years old. Â
- DREAM Act applicants will be responsible for paying fees to cover the costs of USCIS processing their applications.According to Section 286(m) of Immigration and Nationality Act provisions, the cost of having U.S. Customs and Immigration Services process DREAM Act applications will be covered by the application fees.
- DREAM Act applicants would be subject to rigorous criminal background checks and reviews.Â All criminal grounds of inadmissibility and removability that apply to other aliens seeking lawful permanent resident status would apply and bar criminal aliens from gaining conditional or unconditional LPR status under the DREAM Act.Â Additionally, decisions to grant status are discretionary, and any alien with a criminal record not automatically barred by these provisions would only be granted status when and if the Secretary exercises her discretion favorably.
Myth:Â Opponents claim the DREAM Act would encourage more students to immigrate illegally, and that applicants would just use it to petition for relatives.
Fact:Â The DREAM Act only applies to young people already in the United States who were brought here as children, it would not apply to anyone arriving later, so it cannot act as a â€œmagnetâ€ encouraging others to come.Â Furthermore,. DREAM Act applicants would not be able to petition for any family member until fulfilling lengthy and rigorous requirements outlined above, and even then, they would have to wait years before being able to successfully petition for parents or siblings..
- DREAM Act beneficiaries would only be able to petition for entry of their parents or sibling if they have satisfied all of the requirements under the DREAM Act.Â Even then, they would be subject to the same annual caps waiting periods in order to petition for their relatives; the bottom line is that it would take many years before parents or siblings who previously entered the country illegally could obtain a green card.
Myth:Â Opponents claim the DREAM Act would result in taxpayers having to subsidize student loans for those students who register through the DREAM Act.
Fact:Â DREAM Act students would not be eligible for federal grants, period.
- An alien who adjusts to lawful permanent resident status under DREAM qualifies only for certain specified types of Federal higher education assistance.Â Undocumented youth adjusting to lawful permanent resident status are only eligible for federal student loans which must be paid back, and federal work-study programs, where they must work for any benefit they receive. They would not eligible for federal grants, such as Pell Grants. Â Â