Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced the Dream Act of 2023 (S. 365) in the Senate on February 9, 2023. This bipartisan bill would provide Dreamers – young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives – with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements.
The Dream Act of 2023 would allow approximately 1.9 million eligible Dreamers brought to America as children, including the roughly 600,000 current DACA recipients, to receive permanent protections to live and work in the U.S.
What Would the Dream Act Do?
- The Dream Act of 2023 would create a conditional permanent resident status valid for up to eight years for Dreamers that would protect them from deportation, allow them to work legally in the U.S. and permit them to travel outside the country.
- To qualify for conditional permanent resident status, young undocumented immigrants would need to meet the following requirements:
- Demonstrate that they were brought to the U.S. at age 17 or younger and have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment;
- Pass a government background check, demonstrate “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data, and undergo a biometric and medical exam;
- Demonstrate they have been admitted to a college or university, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; and
- Pay an application fee.
- The bill would automatically grant conditional permanent resident status to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who still meet the requirements needed to obtain DACA.
- Conditional permanent resident status can be changed to lawful permanent resident (LPRs or green-card holder) status as soon as they meet the following conditions:
- Maintain continuous residence in the U.S.;
- Complete one of the following three requirements:
- Graduate from a college or university, or complete at least two years of a bachelor’s or higher degree program in the U.S. (education track);
- Complete at least two years of honorable military service (military track); or
- Have worked for a period totaling at least three years (worker track);
- Demonstrate an ability to read, write and speak English and an understanding of American history, principles and form of government;
- Pass a government background check, continue to demonstrate “good moral character” without felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data, and undergo a biometric and medical exam; and
- Pay an application fee.
- Recipients can lose conditional permanent resident status if they commit a serious crime or fail to meet the other requirements set in the bill.
Why the Dream Act Supports American Values
- The Dream Act is a bipartisan, legislative solution. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) support the Dream Act as a bipartisan legislative solution to address permanently the fate of Dreamers.
- The Dream Act addresses ongoing legal challenges to DACA. DACA recipients remain in legal limbo as legal challenges to DACA make their way through the courts. Enactment of the Dream Act would resolve legal concerns related to DACA and offer Dreamers permanent status, allowing them to continue living and working in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
- The Dream Act helps the American economy. The bill would allow young undocumented immigrants to continue to contribute to their communities and the economy by working legally, paying their fair share of taxes and building businesses that hire American workers. It also would provide a permanent solution for hundreds of thousands of lawful members of the workforce who otherwise risk losing authorization to work.
- The Dream Act supports our country’s values. The Dream Act treats young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — some as babies — fairly by providing a permanent legislative solution that allows them to stay in the U.S. The bill prevents Dreamers from deportation to a country where they did not grow up and many do not remember. It allows them to reach their full potential and have the opportunity to become American in the eyes of the law, contributing to a brighter future for all Americans.