WASHINGTON — An alliance of presidents of U.S. colleges and universities, including Catholic institutions, said the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2021 “represents the first step to restore certainty into the lives of young adults, students and other aspiring Americans who want nothing more than to be an integral part of the fabric of this country.”
“The last four years have been a time of tremendous adversity for the immigrant community, particularly in light of the multiple attempts to terminate DACA,” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, said Jose Magana-Salgado, speaking on behalf of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. He is the group’s director of policy and communications. “We urge the Senate to move forward as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
The alliance is made up of the presidents and other leaders at dozens of colleges and universities, including over 20 Catholic universities. Its mission is to increase “public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses and communities” and to create “a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented and international students on our campuses.”
Magana-Salgado’s statement followed the introduction of the latest version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, introduced in the Senate Feb. 4 by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
The name “Dreamers” is taken from the bill’s title and refers to the young adults who were brought by their parents to the United States illegally as children and remain in the country under DACA. Currently the program protects about 700,000 young people who qualify from deportation and allows them to work, go to college, get health insurance and obtain a driver’s license.
The program was established by President Barrack Obama with an executive order in 2012 to allow young people brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents to stay in the United States.
Congress has considered the proposed DREAM Act before. Among other provisions, it would grant temporary conditional residency to these young people. First introduced in 2001, it has yet to pass. Durbin and Graham previously introduced the bill March 26, 2019.
It would allow DACA beneficiaries to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children; graduate from high school or obtain a GED; pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military; and pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee.