The most recent version of the Dream Act, H.R. 2820, was introduced in May 2019 in the House by Rep. Roybal- Allard.H.R. 2820 was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on May 22, 2019, and the bill was subsequently combined with H.R. 2821, the American Promise Act of 2019, to form H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. H.R. 6 would provide permanent legal status for Dreamers as well as beneficiaries of two humanitarian programs: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). H.R. 6 passed the House on June 4, 2019, by a vote of 237 to 187. The bill is currently pending in the Senate and has not been called for a vote.
What does the Dream Act do?
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would provide current, former, and future undocumented high school graduates and GED recipients a three-step pathway to U.S. citizenship through college, work, or the armed services.
Step 1: Conditional Permanent Residence
An individual is eligible to obtain conditional permanent resident (CPR) status for up to 10 years, which includes work authorization, if the person:
- entered the United States under the age of 18;
- entered four years prior to enactment and has since been continuously present;
- has been admitted to an institution of higher education or technical education school, has graduated high school or obtained a GED, or is currently enrolled in secondary school or a program assisting students to obtain a high school diploma or GED;
- has not been convicted of any "crime involving moral turpitude" or controlled substance offense, any crime punishable by more than one year in prison, or three or more offenses under state or federal law. There is an exception for offenses which are essential to a person’s immigration status;
- has not been convicted of a crime of domestic violence unless the individual can prove the crime was related to being the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse, neglect in later life, human trafficking, battery, or extreme cruelty.
Under the terms of the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security can issue waivers for humanitarian purposes, for family unity, or when the waiver is otherwise in the public interest. In addition, anyone who has DACA would be granted a swift path to CPR status.
Step 2: Lawful Permanent Residence
Anyone who maintains CPR status can obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR status or a “green card”) by satisfying one of the following requirements:
- Higher education: Has completed at least two years, in good standing, of higher education or of a program leading to a certificate/credential from an area career and technical education school;
- Military service: Has completed at least two years of military service with an honorable discharge, if discharged; or
- Work: Can demonstrate employment over a total period of three years and at least 75 percent of the time that the individual had employment authorization, with exceptions for those enrolled in higher education or technical school.
Individuals who cannot meet one of these requirements can apply for a “hardship waiver” if the applicant is a person with disabilities, a full-time caregiver of a minor child, or for whom removal would cause extreme hardship to a spouse, parent, or child who is a national or lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Step 3: Naturalization
After maintaining LPR status for five years, an individual can generally apply to become a U.S. citizen through the normal process.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, as many as 2.31 million individuals would qualify for conditional permanent resident status under the 2019 version of the Dream Act, putting them on a path to citizenship. The bill would also provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 429,000 people who are current or former beneficiaries of TPS or DED.