Senators introduce revised Dream Act

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) hold a press briefing on their Dream Act legislation.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on Thursday introduced a new version of a bill granting legal status and a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

This latest version of the Dream Act would confer conditional permanent residency status on individuals who were 17 or younger when they entered the U.S. and have lived here continuously at least four years before the bill is enacted, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, which supports the legislation.

In order to achieve non-conditional permanent residency, the Dreamer, in addition to meeting other requirements, must complete a college degree or two years towards a bachelor’s degree, two years in the military or a minimum amount of employment over a three-year span. The job option is a new feature of the bill.

Like past versions, the legislation repeals a provision in federal law that limited states’ ability to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students.

“Teachers, engineers, medical students — just wonderful young people who have grown up in America,” Durbin said at a press briefing about potentially eligible immigrants. “All they’re asking for now is a chance to earn their way into legal status, earn their way into citizenship.”

“These kids have come out of the shadows at the invitation of their government,” Graham added. “We do not pull the rug from under them.”

The bill will face challenges on Capitol Hill, but supporters are optimistic in building momentum for it.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary relief from deportation to those immigrants, remains in place, despite considerable pressure on the Trump administration to repeal it. A group of 10 state attorneys general have vowed to sue the administration if it does not start phasing out DACA by September 5.

Watch Thursday’s press briefing

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