How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The 10th anniversary of the Dream Act

Photo by DreamActivist/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Dream Act supporters outside L.A. City Hall, June 2009

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the original Dream Act. The first Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced August 1, 2001 by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, with a bipartisan group of cosponsors.

The bill's timing could not have been worse. In a little more than a month, the political landscape surrounding immigration would change drastically, obliterating any chance of passage. But after years of reintroductions, amendments and changing sponsors, the proposal to grant conditional legal status to young undocumented people brought here as minors continues to make its way around Congress, making it a noteworthy anniversary.

Here is a summary of the bill, then known as S.1291, as it was introduced:

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act or DREAM Act - - Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the provision prohibiting an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on State residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such State residence.

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Attorney General to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, certain (inadmissible or deportable) alien higher education students under the age of 21 with qualifying years of U.S. residency.