Questions pertaining to illegal immigrants have always brewed
contention. Different views have been expressed as to exactly what
measures should be taken. The contention gets even deeper when
considering individuals who were brought into the United States as
children and have known this country as their home. This is essentially
why the DREAM Act was crafted.
The DREAM Act is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for
Alien Minors Act. The bill seeks to give extremely talented illegal
aliens within a certain age group an opportunity to gain legal citizen
status. This bill was initially introduced in the senate and the House
of Representatives in 2001. However, it has failed to garner support
throughout the subsequent times of its introduction in the Senate
including 2003, 2005, 2007, 2007, 2009 and 2011 (Olivas, 2012). While
its co-sponsors have changed with time, the bill still attracts
widespread and bipartisan support. In fact, about twelve states have
already enacted their own versions of the bill. However, a large
proportion of its support emanates from the democrats, which underlines
the parties’ differences with regard to the manner in which the issue
of illegal immigrants should be dealt (Jost, 2012b).
The DREAM Act provides that individuals who are below 35 years of age,
have high school education, and have been of “good conduct” are
offered a temporary residence status that would then allow them to join
post-secondary education or the military within the first six years
(Thomas, 2009). They can then apply for full citizenship status. In this
case, the Bill would allow the United States to benefit from only the
top-most and talented children of the illegal immigrants (Olivas, 2012).
In fact, research shows that, although there are more than 3 million
illegal aliens in the United States, the provisions of the bill would
limit the number to only about 825,000 as these are the only ones who
would meet the conditions (Thomas, 2009).
However, the DREAM Act has a bearing on the Human Rights of the illegal
immigrants. This is especially with regard to the right to family unity
and right to education. Undocumented alien kids are unable to pursue
higher education or even join the military as such privileges are only
restricted to individuals with legal citizen status(Glick & White,
2003)On the same note, undocumented aliens are always under the risk of
being deported to their original countries, in which case their families
are perennially under the risk of being separated (Carrasco, 2006).
While the DREAM Act is bound to be reintroduced in the Senate, its
chances of going through are considerably slim. However, varied changes
can be made to the bill to enhance its chances of succeeding (Willy,
2012). First, the DREAM Act should make it clear that any individual who
makes false claims in his application runs the risk of imprisonment and
imprisonment, unlike the current Bill where such measures are prohibited
(Willy, 2012). Secondly, it should include measures such as electronic
verification of an individual’s legal status for all new hires
(Pérez, 2009).
Various arguments for and against the DREAM Act have been put forward.
Supporters of the bill state that it if based on fairness, would enhance
economic productivity and eliminates barriers standing in the way of
undocumented youths (Jost, 2012). Opponents, however, see it as amnesty
for aliens, a reward for breaking the law, not to mention that it is
vulnerable to fraud (Jost, 2012).
Carrasco, S (2006). The D.r.e.a.m. Act, Is It Just a Dream?: Latino
Challenges in Public Policy. San Francisco: San Francisco State
Glick, J.E & White, M.J (2003) “The Academic Trajectories of Immigrant
Youths: Analysis Within and Across Cohorts,” Demography 40, no. 4
(2003): 759-83
Jost, K (2012). Pro/Con: Should Congress pass the DREAM Act? CQ
Researcher. Volume 22, Issue 10
Jost, K (2012b). “Immigration conflict.” CQ Researcher 22: 229-252.
Thomas, K (2009). “Parental Characteristics and the Schooling Progress
of the Children of Immigrant and US-Born Blacks,” Demography 46, no.
3: 513-34


New York University Press.
Pérez, W. (2009). We are Americans: Undocumented students pursuing the
American dream. Sterling, Va: Stylus.
Willy, N (2012). DREAM Act. New York: Culp Press