Update on the “DREAM Act”

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 26, 2007 1 min read
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CORRECTION: The following blog item that I posted earlier this afternoon contains an inaccuracy. The “DREAM Act” that Sen. Richard J. Durbin hopes to introduce as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill currently being debated on the U.S. Senate floor doesn’t offer in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students. That provision was contained in an earlier version of the amendment but was removed in the version of the amendment filed in the Senate last week.

It won’t be at least until next week that the “DREAM Act,” offering some college tuition help for undocumented students, is put up for a vote in the U.S. Senate, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois and the author of the measure. The bill would permit undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools—and meet some other criteria—to get in-state tuition rates at U.S. colleges and universities. (See my earlier post, “The ‘DREAM Act’ is Reintroduced in Congress.”)

A version of this bill—called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act—was first introduced in 2001. In October 2003, it was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that’s the farthest it’s ever gotten in Congress. It has also been part of a couple of comprehensive immigration reform packages introduced in the U.S. Senate, but any of us who follow immigration issues know what happened to those proposals. They were not approved by the full Congress.

Sen. Durbin has put a new twist on his pitch for passage of the DREAM Act, according to a Sept. 20 article in The New York Times. He views the bill as a way to boost military recruitment. It would provide a path to legalization for undocumented students who agree either to serve in the military or attend college for two years. The New York Times article features an undocumented youth who graduated from a U.S. high school in 2005 and would like to be legalized so he can join the military.

A Sept. 20 New York Times editorial urged passage of the bill, but critics say they oppose it because it’s a form of “amnesty” for people who are living illegally in the country.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.