I thought I’d read the DREAM Act had passed. But I just Googled it to confirm the details, and as far as I can tell it is still not law, even though it was introduced over a decade ago. But there does seem to be some kind of “deferred action” in place now with all the same basic parameters as the DREAM Act itself. If you are an immigrant who was under 16 when you came to this country, if you “have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012,” if you were under 31 on June 15th of last year, if you are “currently in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or [are] an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces,” and if you have not “been convicted of a felony offense, a ‘significant misdemeanor offense,’ three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety,” then you can apply for the deferred action. It isn’t clear to me what exactly the deferred action will get you, but the requirements are similar to that of the DREAM Act, so I am guessing the results run along the same lines, too. The DREAM Act allows for a 6-year path to citizenship involving fulfilling certain educational or military requirements. I read about a $495 fee, as well. And while it dismays me that we have fought over this for more than a decade, I’m glad to know we have at least put something in place. I know this will make a big difference for many of my community college students.
But I couldn’t help but feel discouraged by the rules, can’t help wishing we could embrace these young people more completely. I can’t help but wonder if there is any option in place for people to work off their fees during the process. Do we offer payment plans? And I can’t help but think about the brother and sister who are age 30 and 32. My heart sinks at the thought of being so close and not being eligible. I can see that 32-year-old woman, her heart breaking that she missed the age cutoff. But I see her smiling at her brother six years from now, her heart proud, swelling for his big happiness, his big day, becoming a United States citizen. Could we leave her behind more fully, hurt her in any bigger way?
[Editor’s note: The website I quote is available here. And that last rule sounds like it’s open to all kinds of messy interpretation, hmm?]