How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A streamlined DREAM Act moves forward

DREAM Act supporters at a Los Angeles rally in September, after a defense bill carrying the measure failed to win enough votes in the Senate. It was later reintroduced as a stand-alone bill.
DREAM Act supporters at a Los Angeles rally in September, after a defense bill carrying the measure failed to win enough votes in the Senate. It was later reintroduced as a stand-alone bill. Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

The American Immigration Lawyers Association sent a notice to its members this morning with details of a tighter, more restrictive version of the DREAM Act introduced in the Senate last night.

From the notice, which has now been posted on the AILA website:

Late last night, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) filed a new version of the DREAM Act (S. 3992) with the aim of attracting broader support for DREAM to get the requisite 60 votes to pass the Senate. With the filing of this new bill, the anticipated date for bringing DREAM to a vote will be delayed. The earliest Reid could file a cloture motion on the new bill would be this coming Thursday. After waiting out the requisite 30 hours post-cloture, it could "ripen" over the weekend, and effectively come up for a vote on Monday at the earliest.

The new version addresses many of the concerns raised by Republicans and tightens the restrictions on eligibility in several respects. Among other changes, the new version does the following:

Excludes from eligibility those with certain criminal convictions, such as for offenses punishable by a maximum term of more than 1 year (felony) or 3 misdemeanors
Requires all applicants to provide their biometric data to DHS, to submit to background checks and medical examination, and to register for military selective service
Requires applicants to pay all taxes
Sets the cut-off age to those who are less than 30 years-old on the date of enactment
Provides a "safe harbor" from removal only to those applicants who present a prima facie case of eligibility
Extends the good moral character requirement back to the date the alien entered the United States rather than the date of enactment of DREAM
Expands the applicable grounds of inadmissibility to include the health-related, public charge, smuggling, draft dodging, and unlawful voting grounds
Expands the applicable grounds of deportability to include public charge, unlawful voting, and marriage fraud grounds
Excludes those who participated in persecution
Clarifies that no one can apply before 1 year after enactment
Requires applicants to demonstrate eligibility by a preponderance of the evidence
Eliminates repeal of the in-state tuition ban
Defines institution of higher education to include only U.S.-based programs
Requires those who subsequently apply for adjustment to meet the English language and civics requirements typically required for naturalization
Expands the circumstances where disclosure of confidential information about DREAM applicants is required for homeland security or national security purposes
Creates conditional nonimmigrant status for 10 years, followed by 3 years of LPR status prior to application for naturalization

This version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is considerably tighter than the most recent one, which among other things set the cutoff age for DREAM Act beneficiaries at 35. The changes would reduce the number of young people able to obtain legal permanent status through the measure, most recently estimated at 825,000 by the Migration Policy Institute.

Reid said yesterday that he planned to push a test vote in the Senate this week.

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