The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before they turned 16 a path to U.S. citizenship, and it will be up for a vote next week!
Young people who have lived in the United States for at least five years would be able to apply for conditional permanent residency and complete two years of higher education or military service, giving them access to a green card and eventual U.S. citizenship. Conditional permanent residency would also give students the opportunity to be eligible for federal financial aid, currently an insurmountable barrier for many undocumented immigrants trying to go to college.
NLIRH supports the DREAM Act, but we are also concerned because of the relationship the military has had historically with communities of color. Given the history of the U.S. military’s coercive recruiting practices among low-income young people and young people of color, we are concerned that, instead of a measure that allows low-income Latina youth to seek higher education with the promise of new opportunities, undocumented immigrant Latina youth will be coerced into military service by the promise of citizenship without being fully informed about the education-to-citizenship option. Despite some of our concerns, NLIRH sees this bill as a critical first step towards advancing comprehensive immigration reform.
We need you to urge your Senator to support the DREAM Act, and demand that Latinas be presented with both the military and school options equally weighted, as well as be made aware that the minimum years of duty required upon enlisting exceed the two years necessary to gain legal permanent residency. We must also demand adequate protections so that enlisted immigrant women do not jeopardize their legal status if they bring a claim of sexual assault or rape against their superiors.
This bill provides a much-needed route to lawful citizenship to the country many immigrant young people call home – contact your Senator today, and demand that we do this the right way!
Click here to send your Senator an email, or call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.