Here we go yet again. Figure it out politicos, the American people are against this.
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The DREAM Act in the 111th Congress
(S. 729 and H.R. 1751*)
In-State Tuition for Future Illegal Aliens
• The bills retroactively repeal the federal ban on in-state tuition for illegal aliens, thus
nullifying the lawsuits already decided in favor of the federal ban, but currently under
• To qualify for lawful permanent resident status, an applicant must be inadmissible or
deportable and must:
• Have been physically present in the US for the five years preceding the date of enactment
(the bill does not specify how aliens are to prove this, or even whether they have to prove
• Have been under the age of 16 upon entry into the US;
• Be a “person of good moral character,” but only AFTER the application is filed;
• Not have been convicted of an aggravated felony or more than two misdemeanors (though
being charged with such crimes is fine);
• Not be a known terrorist or national security risk;
• Not be a known/convicted smuggler or human trafficker (all other immigration violations
are fine, and this one can be waived for humanitarian or family unity purposes);
• Not have abducted a child and taken the child to a different country (in the Senate bill only);
• At the time of filing an application, have been admitted to an institution of higher
education, or have a high school diploma or a GED.
* The House and Senate versions of the DREAM Act are almost identical, with four important
H.R. 1751 would allow illegal aliens of any age over five (since they have to have been present
in the United States for five years) to apply for amnesty, while S. 729 requires applicants to be
under the age of 35.
H.R. 1751 does not disqualify from amnesty international child abductors or aliens who have
received final orders of removal or exclusion, while S. 729 does.
H.R. 1751 limits the availability of waivers of the requirements for amnesty to cases of “extreme
hardship,” while S. 729 makes waivers available for humanitarian and family unity purposes, as
well as for the “public interest.”
S. 729 authorizes fines and up to five years in prison for “willfully and knowingly” falsifying or lying
on an amnesty application; H.R. 1751 includes no such penalties.
The Senate version also requires that applicants:
• Have never received a final order of removal or exclusion unless the alien successfully
played the legal system and found a way to remain in the US under color of law, or the
final order was issued before the alien turned 16; and
• Be under 35 years of age as of the date of enactment.
• Neither bill includes a requirement that an amnesty applicant produce either
documentation or any other evidence that the individual actually satisfies the criteria listed
• There are no numerical limits on how many illegal aliens may be granted amnesty, and
they cannot be counted against any existing immigration cap.
• There is no end date on the application period, so there is nothing to stop illegal aliens who
enter the country in the future from applying if they are willing to lie about when they
• No alien who files an amnesty application may be removed from the United States before
the application is adjudicated completely. There are no exceptions to this, so as long as an alien
files an amnesty application before he flies a plane into the World Trade Center or goes on a killing
spree in the local mall, he cannot be removed from the country until USCIS (hopefully) denies his
application and he has exhausted all appeals.
“Conditional” Permanent Residence
• Aliens granted amnesty would be given conditional permanent resident status for six
years. This conditional status could only be terminated if DHS determines that the alien:
• Is no longer a person of good moral character;
• Has been convicted of an aggravated felony or three or more misdemeanors;
• Is a terrorist, human smuggler, or (in the Senate version) international child abductor;
• Has become a public charge (there are no regulations defining this term in immigration
law, so this provision is not currently enforceable); or
• Received a dishonorable or other than honorable discharge from the military.
• Should an alien’s conditional status be terminated, the alien would return to whatever
immigration status he or she had prior to getting amnesty. This means the alien would
have to be put through removal proceedings and exhaust all available appeals before being
removed, even though the alien admitted to being inadmissible or deportable in the
application for amnesty.
The Path to Citizenship
• When the amnestied aliens complete their six years of conditional permanent resident
status, they can petition USCIS to have the conditions removed and become regular lawful
permanent residents. The petition may be filed any time within the six months leading up
to, or the two years following, the end of the six-year period. Each amnestied alien must
indicate in the petition that he or she:
• Has demonstrated good moral character since filing for amnesty;
• Has not been convicted of disqualifying crimes;
• Is not a terrorist, human smuggler, or (in the Senate version) international child abductor;
• Has not been absent from the US for more than 365 days during the six years (or he/she
can explain such absence and why it doesn’t indicate abandonment of US residence); and
• Has completed at least ONE of the following:
• A degree from a US institution of higher education or at least two years toward such a
• At least two years of military service and, if discharged, was honorably discharged.
• For those aliens who have not completed two years of college or service in the military
during this six-year period, DHS may waive this requirement and remove their conditional
status if the alien:
• Satisfies the other requirements;
• Demonstrates “compelling circumstances for the inability to meet the last requirement; and
• Demonstrates that his/her removal would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual
hardship to the alien or the alien’s spouse, parent, or child who is a citizen or lawful
• Alternatively, upon “a showing of good cause,” DHS may extend the six-year period of
conditional status to give the alien more time to complete one of these requirements.
• While amnestied aliens must successfully petition to have their conditional status removed
before they may naturalize, their six years of conditional residence counts toward the
naturalization requirement. Thus, these aliens will be able to apply for naturalization
immediately upon the removal of conditional status.
• Since conditional permanent resident status can only be terminated for one of the reasons
in the section above, and since neither bill includes either a requirement that amnestied
aliens petition to have their conditional status removed or a provision that terminates the
legal status of aliens who do not seek to have the conditions removed, there is nothing to
prevent an alien from simply remaining in conditional status permanently. This would be
especially helpful to aliens who would not meet the criteria for removal of the conditions.
The only major benefit they would be denied would be the opportunity to naturalize.
Handling the Additional Workload
• USCIS would bear the brunt of the massive amnesty workload this bill would generate.
The bill’s authors undoubtedly are aware that USCIS announced a few years ago its
successful completion of the Backlog Elimination Program, which was instituted before
DHS was even created, to address the rapidly growing backlog of immigration benefits
applications processed by USCIS. USCIS reported that the backlog had reached a high of
almost four million applications by January, 2004. Then-USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez
announced on September 5, 2006, that the backlog had been reduced to 140,000. (Of course,
most of that reduction was achieved by redefining the word “backlog,” and the rest was
the result of shortcuts on security checks.) The bill’s authors also are undoubtedly aware of
the fact that USCIS recently raised immigration fees by unprecedented amounts so that it
would have the resources to stay current on applications. Perhaps the bill’s authors are
even aware of the fact that USCIS reports that it had 3.2 million applications pending as of
January, 2009, despite the alleged success of the Backlog Elimination Program and the fee
• This could explain why the bill gives exclusive jurisdiction to DHS (meaning USCIS) to
grant or deny amnesty applications, except where an alien is put in removal proceedings
either before or after filing an amnesty application. In these cases, the Attorney General
would have exclusive jurisdiction. While this likely would result in lawsuits alleging
disparate treatment of applications by the two agencies, at least is will spread the workload
around a bit, assuming there are still some enforcement efforts that result in illegal aliens
being placed in removal proceedings.
• The Attorney General also would be required to stay removal proceedings for all illegal
aliens who appear to meet the requirements for amnesty, are at least 12 years old, and are
enrolled full time in school.
Americans Need Not Apply
• The good news for illegal alien students is that if their removal proceedings are stayed,
they are automatically authorized to work in the US, regardless of whether they apply for
and are granted amnesty. This is in addition to all the illegal aliens who are actually
granted amnesty and automatically given work authorization with their conditional
permanent resident status.
Law Enforcement Provisions
• Under the Senate bill, “willfully and knowingly” lying on an amnesty application is
punishable by a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
• None of the information provided by illegal aliens in their applications may be used for
any purpose except the adjudication of the application, with two exceptions:
• The AG or DHS must provide such information if a law enforcement agency is
investigating or prosecuting a criminal or terrorism-related offense that would make an alien
inadmissible, and such agency requests the information in writing; and
• Coroners attempting to identify the dead are the only others granted access to the
Moving to the Front of the Line
• Both bills require USCIS to adjudicate all amnesty applications on “an expedited basis” but
prohibit the agency from requiring a higher fee from amnesty applicants for such
expedited processing. This means that every illegal alien who applies for amnesty would
move to the front of the line, ahead of the millions of people who are in line to come to the
United States the right way.
Bonus Reward for Illegal Students
• Amnesty beneficiaries would be eligible for certain student loans and federal work-study
Assessing the Damage
• Within seven years after enactment, the GAO would be required to submit to Congress a
report on the number of aliens amnestied, the breakdown of approvals versus denials, and
the number whose conditional status had been removed.