On February 4, 2021, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Dream Act of 2021 (Senate Bill 264). The two senators have repeatedly introduced similar legislation since 2001.
*NOTE: THIS IS ONLY PROPOSED LEGISLATION. IT HAS NOT BEEN ENACTED INTO LAW. MANY, INCLUDING SENATORS DURBIN AND GRAHAM, HAVE TRIED IN THE PAST TO ENACT SIMILAR IMMIGRATION REFORMS WITHOUT SUCCESS. WE WILL PROVIDE ANY UPDATES AS NEEDED.
If enacted, this legislation would give many individuals brought to the United States as children, and more commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” a path to citizenship.
Such individuals may receive conditional permanent residence in the United States if they can sufficiently demonstrate, among other things:
- They were brought to the U.S. before the age of 18 and have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the legislation’s enactment.
- They are a person of good moral character with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions.
- They have been admitted to a college or university or have earned or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or GED.
Current holders of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who still meet the DACA eligibility requirements would be automatically granted conditional permanent residence.
Those individuals would then be eligible to change from conditional permanent resident status to permanent resident status as soon as they meet the following conditions:
- They maintain continuous residence in the United States.
- They fulfill one of the following:
- Graduate from college or university, or complete at least two (2) years of a bachelor’s degree or other higher degree program;
- Serve honorably in the U.S. military for at least two (2) years; or
- Work for a total period of at least three (3) years.
- They demonstrate an ability to read, write, and speak English and an understanding of American history, principles and form of government.
- They continue to demonstrate good moral character with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions.
Polls have increasingly shown that a majority of Americans support granting permanent legal status to Dreamers. This bill, if enacted, could affect millions of Dreamers currently in the United States, including an estimated 650,000 that are currently enrolled in the DACA program.