The "DREAM Act" Is Reintroduced in Congress
Once again, there's a bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that would enable graduates of U.S. schools who are undocumented immigrants--and who meet certain criteria--to get in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities in their states. Organizations that are advocating for passage of the bill, such as the National Council of La Raza, say that about 65,000 youths who are undocumented are granted high school diplomas in this country each year.
The bill also would give undocumented youths who meet certain criteria a path to legalization, so that if they earn a college education, they have a chance to get a job in their field of study. It's practically impossible, for example, to be hired as a teacher in U.S. schools if you don't have papers to live legally in this country.
A full text of the bill, S. 774, wasn't available yet in the "Thomas" Web library of the Library of Congress this afternoon, but a summary was available.
Some states already provide in-state tuition rates for undocumented students, but many do not. I wrote about this issue last spring, when legislators in many states and in the U.S. Congress were discussing how illegal immigration should be addressed.
A version of this bill-- called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act--was first introduced in 2001. Its legislative high-water mark so far was approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2003, which was noted in Education Week. Last year, it was part of the comprehensive immigration package introduced in, but never approved by, the full Senate.
According to a March 6 press release from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's office, the Massachusetts senator and Arizona senator John McCain, as well as U.S. Reps. Jeff Flake, of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, of Illinois, are making final a new, comprehensive immigration bill that they expect to introduce in mid-March. Sen. Kennedy is the chairman of the Immigration, Refugees and Border Control Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Cecilia Muñoz, the senior vice president for the office of research, advocacy, and legislation of the National Council of La Raza, noted at a Feb. 28 policy meeting in Washington sponsored by Hispanic advocacy groups that the DREAM Act is expected to be introduced as part of that new immigration bill as well. She said that the DREAM Act should become law because "every year that goes by we lose tens of thousands of students who should go on to higher education."