With Democrats holding the majority in Congress and with President Joe Biden leading our country, it is time to fast track passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Passing the DREAM Act would put the small group law-abiding young adults brought to the U.S. as children, often called “Dreamers,” on a path to eventual U.S. citizenship.
This must be a priority because Dreamers have been living with uncertainty for too long.
Many Dreamers are currently working or going to school legally under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permits; the average DACA recipient was brought to the U.S. at only 6-years-old and has considered the U.S. their home for 22 years. But Dreamers lost what little stability they had through DACA when President Trump rescinded the program in 2017 and then spent three years fighting in court to keep it gone. While the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration terminated DACA in an unlawful manner and the Biden administration has committed to keeping the program in place, DACA is not immune to future legal challenges.
Without legislation permanently protecting Dreamers, these young people will always live-in fear that DACA will be overturned in the courts. They will live in constant fear of deportation from the only country they call home. The DREAM Act would allow them to remain in the U.S. and pursue the American Dream without fear of deportation.
Voters across the political spectrum agree that letting Dreamers remain in the U.S. is the right thing to do; 97 percent of Democratic voters and three-quarters of GOP voters support letting Dreamers stay here while working or attending school.
Skeptics should take note that not everyone brought illegally to the U.S. as a child would be eligible to be on a pathway to citizenship; only those brought to the U.S. before 2007 at the age of 16 or younger would qualify for citizenship under DREAM Act. It includes stringent measures to ensure that no one takes advantage of the legislation, and it will not encourage further illegal immigration. Dreamers must also actively contribute to our economy by attending school and/or working while they are on the path to U.S. citizenship.
The DREAM Act will extend a desperately needed lifeline to the small pool of young people who came to the U.S. by no choice of their own and proudly call themselves Americans. The U.S. House of Representatives has acted and passed a bill, now it is up to the U.S. Senate to do the right thing. Seeing the DREAM Act passed by the Senate and sent to Biden for his signature into law will be a great step forward toward commonsense immigration reform.
Corey Day served as a senior adviser to President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign in Minnesota and previously was Executive Director of the Minnesota DFL.