New Version of DREAM Act Introduced in the Senate (Round 5)

Melissa Garcia-Velez, an 18 year old 'DREAMer' at a rally in New York

Melissa Garcia-Velez, an 18 year old 'DREAMer' at a rally in New York. (Photo: Sarah Kramer)

Late Tuesday night Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a new version of the DREAM Act (S. 3992) that he hopes will address the concerns of a couple of Republican senators, and win the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill in the Senate. Through the DREAM Act, which was originally introduced in 2001 by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), young immigrants could apply for citizenship by entering the U.S. armed forces or attending college for two years.

This is the fifth – and most restrictive – version of the bill so far. One of the biggest changes is an increase from six to ten years that young people would have to remain in conditional non-immigrant status.  Following those 10 years (assuming non-violation of the terms), they would then have lawful permanent resident status for three additional years before they could apply for naturalization.

The new version also reduces the number of immigrants who qualify, by narrowing the pool to those who would be less than 30 years old on the date of enactment, as opposed to the old bill’s cut-off at 35.

The new bill also bars applicants from obtaining subsidies from the exchange under federal health care reform while they have conditional status; requires them to provide their biometric data to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; submit to a background check and medical examination and register for military selective service.

It would also limit individuals from being able to sponsor family members for U.S. citizenship.

On the American Immigration Lawyers Association website, you can see the many other changes. However, it remains to be seen if they will amount to anything, since all 42 Senate Republican have promised to filibuster any bills brought up before a vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income groups.

Some see the GOP move as blackmail.  Others say its just politics as usual. Whatever you call it, the DREAM Act is caught in the middle.

AboutSarah Kate Kramer
Sarah Kate Kramer first got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator, then traveled the world with a microphone for a few years before settling down in her hometown of New York City. From 2010-2012 she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelance reporter for WNYC Radio, where she created “Niche Market,” a weekly segment that profiled specialty stores in New York. Sarah is now a producer at Radio Diaries, a non-profit that produces documentaries for NPR and other public radio outlets.