DREAM Act Myths and Facts

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With the Senate expected to take up debate on the DREAM Act soon, it's more important than ever to separate the myths from the facts on this important piece of legislation.

The DREAM Act would be a key step toward reforming our broken immigration system, providing hard-working, talented, undocumented young people with a path to citizenship in exchange for going to college or serving in the military.

The Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Council recently took on some of the myths surrounding the DREAM Act, providing a look at what the policy would actually do:
MythThe DREAM Act allows undocumented students to pay cheaper tuition than citizens.
Fact:  The DREAM Act gives states the option to offer in-state tuition to students registered under DREAM, but it does NOT guarantee cheaper tuition.  At most, the DREAM Act allows undocumented students to access the same benefits as their peers.  The DREAM Act allows undocumented students to access in-state tuition, but only if they would otherwise qualify for such tuition, and if state law permits undocumented students to receive in-state tuition.
Myth: The DREAM Act gives undocumented students and their families access to public benefits.
Fact: DREAM Act students receive no special benefits and are subject to the same public benefits eligibility requirements as other legal immigrants.  This means that DREAM Act students and families are NOT immediately eligible for Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid (other than emergency care), and numerous other federal benefit programs.  In general, a person must be here as a lawful permanent resident for five years before they receive non-emergency federal assistance.
Myth: The DREAM Act will result in a mass amnesty.
Fact: The DREAM Act is not an amnesty.  No one will automatically receive a green card.  To legalize, individuals have to meet stringent eligibility criteria: they must have entered the United States before age 16; must have been here for five years or more; must not have committed any major crimes; must graduate from high school or the equivalent; and must complete at least two years of college or military service.  Eligible students must first obtain conditional residency and complete the requirements before they can obtain a green card—a process that will take years.  Not all immigrants who came as young children will be eligible to legalize because they will not meet some of these requirements.
Myth: The DREAM Act will spur more illegal immigration because it rewards undocumented youth.
Fact: Programs like the DREAM Act, which have clear cut-off dates, offer no incentives for more illegal immigration.  In order to qualify for the DREAM Act, a student must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years before the date of enactment.  Economic conditions have far more impact on illegal immigration than specific pieces of legislation.

Click here to see the full document.

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