The Dream Act of 2017 is a bill that would give people brought to the USA as minors the chance to apply for residency and then citizenship afterwards. Currently, this bill is in the proposal stage. Congress has not signed it into law yet.
There are two important facts about this proposed law:
- Compared to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Dream Act of 2017 would expand the number of minors who are covered.
- This bill is a bipartisan effort. It has support from both Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress.
Antonini & Cohen thanks Senators Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (Democrat-Illinois) for their vision and for reaching across the aisle to do what is right for America and for this group of immigrants.
The Dream Act of 2017 lays out a three-step path to citizenship:
Individuals can apply for Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR) if they meet ALL of the following requirements:
- Entered the United States before they turned 18 years old.
- Entered at least four years before the bill’s enactment and have been continuously present in the United States.
- Have not been convicted of a crime where the term of imprisonment was more than a year, or have not been convicted of three or more offenses where the total combined sentence was 90 days or more. Offenses that are essential to a person’s immigration status are exempt.
- Have been admitted to an institution of higher education, have graduated high school or obtained a GED, or are currently enrolled in secondary school or a program assisting students to obtain a diploma or GED.
After maintaining Conditional Permanent Residence for eight years, individuals may be eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). They must have completed either of these requirements:
- At least two years of higher education or military service with an honorable discharge.
- Employment over a total period of three years.
There are exceptions (called “hardship waivers”) for applicants who have disabilities, are full-time caregivers for a minor child, or if their deportation would cause “extreme hardship” to their spouse, parent(s), or child who is a US citizen.
Once the individual is a Lawful Permanent Resident, they can apply for citizenship (via naturalization) under the existing rules.
Continuing Support for Dreamers from DACA to the Dream Act of 2017
Introduced on July 20, 2017, the Dream Act of 2017 is an important pathway to supporting and protecting Dreamers/DACA holders. Anti-immigrant voices are on a crusade to end the DACA program. For example, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has threatened to sue the Trump Administration if it does not end the DACA program by September 5. We must insist that the Administration keep DACA in place until Congress passes the Dream Act.
The Atlanta immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen encourage each of you to contact your representative. Tell them you support the Dream Act of 2017. To reach your representative, go to https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.