CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The DREAM Act is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, under a closed rule with one hour of debate equally divided. The rule also provides for the adoption of an additional House amendment, which is reflected in the summary below. The legislation was introduced on December 7, 2010 by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). The bill was not considered by any of the five Committees to which it was referred.
The DREAM Act would offer amnesty to undocumented immigrants who entered the country before the age of 15. The bill would grant permanent residency (and then citizenship) to an undocumented immigrant if the person completes two years of college or service in the military. More specifically, the eligible individual would be required to be in “good standing” and in pursuit of a bachelor degree or serve in the military and must be discharged honorably. Either requirement would need to be completed within five years of the enactment of the proposed legislation, at which time, there is an additional five year waiting period before attaining a green card.
The bill would require that eligible individuals show they have paid all of their taxes and have met certain English and civics citizenship requirements before receiving a green card. After receiving a green card, they would be able to apply for U.S. citizenship after three additional years as permanent residents.
The bill would require the following eligibility standards to be met before enrollment in the program:
The bill would require the potential enrollee to submit biometric information to the Secretary of Homeland Security and undergo background checks; be found to have “good moral character” by the Secretary of Homeland Security; not be deportable under certain grounds in immigration laws; undergo a medical examination and not pose a health risk to the community; and register for the Selective Service.
The bill would prohibit persons enrolled in the program from petitioning for U.S. citizenship for family members who are not residents of the U.S. until ten years after enrolling in the program.
While the bill would prohibit the program’s enrollees from receiving federal benefits, the bill would make enrollees eligible for federal student loans. Participants would also be eligible for social insurance programs after paying into them (E.g. Social Security Disability Insurance Program).
The bill would allow students enrolled in the program to be eligible for federal student loans, federal work-study programs, and services made to college students under 20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq. (including supplemental educational opportunity grants to students with financial needs, special programs designed to identify individuals with financial or “cultural needs,” programs designed to prepare students from low-income families for postsecondary education, and programs to provide remedial—including remedial language study—services to students). The bill would prohibit public universities from granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would affect federal revenues in a number of ways. The increase in authorized workers would affect individual and corporate income taxes, as well as social insurance taxes. On balance, those changes would increase revenues by $1.7 billion over 10 years, according to estimates provided by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). Newly authorized workers also would be eligible for some refundable tax credits.
Although the legislation would reduce the unified budget deficit over the 2011-2020 period, the eventual conversion of some of the conditional nonimmigrants to legal permanent resident (LPR) status after 2020 would lead to significant increases in spending for the federal health insurance exchanges, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Some Members may be concerned that this bill does nothing to address the lack of border security.
Granting Incentives for Illegal Immigration
Some Members may be concerned that the bill would provide an incentive for another wave of undocumented immigrants.
Taxpayer Subsidies for Undocumented Immigrants
Some Members may be concerned that the bill would require taxpayers to subsidize undocumented immigrants in the following ways:
While Perkins loan funds and federal work study funds are not entitlements, and each school has a finite pool of these resources to divide among its students, some Members may be concerned that schools may have an additional burden to distribute their already limited resources to DREAM Act participants.
While the nation’s unemployment rate hovers at nearly 10 percent, some Members may be concerned that Congress has chosen to focus on the DREAM Act, rather than creating jobs.
Unfair to Legal Immigrants
Some Members may be concerned that this legislation sends the wrong message to individuals who are outside of the U.S. and have been trying to attain citizenship legally by obeying our laws.