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Will their parents’ DREAM come true?

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Since 2001, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (“DREAM Act”) has been discussed in the congressional sessions without success. On December 8th, the fifth version of the DREAM Act passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. The Senate is likely to vote on this today.  However, it seems that the legislation will be short of the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for debate. (See article)
The current version of the Act would allow undocumented immigrants under age 30, who entered the United States before they reach 16 years old, to attain temporary status if they have graduated from high school or earned a general equivalency degree (GED). To qualify, migrants must attend two years of college or serve in the military as requirement to get temporary residency.  (See article)

According to the Migration Policy Institute, about 2.1 million undocumented children and young adults in the United States who might be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act (see article).  If the Act does pass, states will be impacted differently. For example, California has the largest number of potential beneficiaries, with 553,000, followed by Texas with 258,000.  Florida, New York and Arizona will also be impacted as well as Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, North Caroline and Colorado.

If the Act does pass, several youth immigrants will be able to get a temporary residency, continue their education and be able to get a job. However, the proposed Act will not benefit a large proportion of undocumented youth immigrants living in the United States who could not afford to go to college to fulfill the two year requirement of studies. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, there are about 245,000 immigrants ages 13 to 22 whom are not enrolled in school, and over 90 percent of these were Latino (see article).


Sonia Plaza

Senior Economist, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice, World Bank

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