Equity & Diversity

Bill to Aid Undocumented Youths In Education Advances

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 29, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill last week that would give thousands of undocumented immigrant youths a chance to gain legal residency and attend college in the United States.

The bill, whose prime sponsor is Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican from Utah and the chairman of the committee, passed 16-3 on Oct. 23.

Called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2003, or the DREAM Act, the legislation would enable undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary U.S. residency cards if they met certain conditions.

To be eligible, the young people must have moved to the United States before they turned 16 and lived here for five years, be of good moral character, and have earned a high school diploma or General Educational Development credential. A similar bill is pending in the House.

Under the Senate bill, after six years, if the immigrants could meet one of several other conditions—including having attended college for two years in good standing, or served in the military for two years—they could obtain legal permanent residency. The bill also would repeal a particular provision of federal immigration law to make it easier for state colleges and universities to charge undocumented students in-state tuition.

The bill, if it becomes law, would benefit an estimated 7,000 to 13,000 people, according to statistics from the Washington-based Urban Institute cited by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., at the committee session.

Several senators said they supported the intent of the bill to benefit a specific group of immigrants who have been brought to the United States at a young age, have done well in high school, and want to go to college here. But they debated how much they should offer the youths. One point of contention involved whether undocumented youths should be eligible for federal Pell Grants for low-income students.

Debate on Pell Grants

Sen. Durbin argued that if undocumented immigrants were going to attend college, they would need financial aid, and that should include Pell Grants.

“We’re saying to these students, ‘We’re not just going to dangle this opportunity before you,’” he said.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., argued for leaving Pell Grants out of the bill. “Let’s see what the need is,” she said. “I’m not sure I trust any study on this anymore. I’m not sure how many students are going to take advantage of a Pell Grant.”

The committee adopted an amendment that would permit undocumented students to get federal student loans and participate in work-study programs but would not authorize them to receive Pell Grants.

That amendment, offered by Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, would also require colleges and universities to register such students with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, a federal database that currently tracks only foreign students on campuses.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Inclusion & Equity
This Spotlight will help you examine disparities in districts’ top positions, the difference between equity and equality, and more.
Equity & Diversity The Battle to Drop Native American Mascots Goes On, as Some Communities Reinstate Them
The larger trend to remove Native American mascots and logos comes from a national racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd in 2020.
6 min read
A woman plays a drum during a "No Honor in Racism Rally" in front of TCF Bank Stadium before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 18, 2015, in Minneapolis. The battle to change the use of Native Americans in logos, team names and fan-driven behavior has often been in the bright spotlight due to major sports teams. Protests are being planned at the Super Bowl once more in response to the Kansas City Chiefs.
A woman plays a drum during a "No Honor in Racism Rally" in front of TCF Bank Stadium before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs, Oct. 18, 2015, in Minneapolis. The battle to change the use of Native Americans in logos, team names and fan-driven behavior has often been in the bright spotlight due to major sports teams. Protests are being planned at the Super Bowl once more in response to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alex Brandon/AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion You Should Be Teaching Black Historical Contention
How to responsibly teach this critical component of Black history instruction —and why you should.
Brittany L. Jones
4 min read
A student raises their hand to ask a question before a group of assorted historical figures.
Camilla Sucre for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion 2 Billion People Celebrate Lunar New Year. Your Class Can, Too
Many school districts are putting the upcoming holiday on their calendars. Guests, music, food, and red envelopes can help bring the festival alive.
Sarah Elia
4 min read
 Illustration depicting a vibrantly colored dragon winding through traditions practiced during the lunar new year.
Changyu Zou for Education Week