Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced legislation providing Dreamers (undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children) protection from deportation and a pathway to obtain legal status.
The Dream Act of 2023 (S. 365) would provide the opportunity to live and work in the U.S. to 1.9 million eligible Dreamers, including 600,000 current DACA recipients. Dreamers would be given permanent resident status valid for up to eight years given they meet certain requirements.
Current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients would automatically receive permanent resident status, assuming they continue to meet the DACA requirements.
Pathway to citizenship: Recipients of conditional permanent resident status would have the opportunity to obtain green cards upon meeting certain requirements, including maintaining continuous residence in the U.S., and either achieving educational benchmarks or working a total of at least three years.
First introduced in 2001, the Dream Act has suffered decades of defeats despite most Americans historically supporting such a policy.
DACA on shaky ground: In 2021, Texas U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen ruled the 2012 memo by President Obama establishing the DACA program unlawful, while preserving renewal eligibility and work status for Dreamers currently enrolled in the program. The ruling was subsequently upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Recently, a coalition of nine states asked Judge Hanen to shut down the DACA program permanently over the next two years.
Political outlook: Any path to congressional approval would require accompanying border security provisions. Bill sponsor Graham said in a statement, “While I continue to support relief for Dreamers, I hope my Democratic colleagues understand we must repair a broken border and address a tsunami of illegal immigration before that is remotely possible.”