On March 12, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new, beefed-up version of the DREAM Act. If passed, the new version of the bill would offer U.S. citizenship opportunities to a larger group of immigrants living in Tennessee and around the country than the original version did.
First introduced in 2001, the act offered a path to citizenship to undocumented young people who were brought into the country as children. However, the new version of the bill, called the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, also extends that opportunity to immigrants with Deferred Enforced Departure and Temporary Protected Status. The goal of the bill is to finally provide a legal way forward for immigrants who have been living in limbo for decades.
Under the Dream and Promise Act, undocumented youth could avoid removal from the country and earn 10 years of conditional permanent residency if they meet certain strict conditions. To qualify for the program, people must have lived in the U.S. for the four years immediately preceding the bill’s implementation, must have been 17 years old or younger when they were brought into the country, have no criminal record, pass a background check and graduate from high school or acquire the educational equivalent. Immigrants would later be granted lawful permanent residency if they graduate from a U.S. technical school or college, serve two years in the U.S. military, or work for at least three years under certain authorized work visa conditions. Currently, the bill has no Republican co-sponsors, but Democrats are confident they can get enough bipartisan support to pass it.
Immigrants seeking legal permanent residency in the United States could contact an immigration attorney for assistance. The attorney could review the case and recommend the best path to citizenship.