The DREAM Act that passed the House, but failed to ratify in the Senate, would have changed the lives of 1.2 million illegal immigrants by granting them legal status through higher education or through service in the military. In an effort to show support for the bill, many illegal immigrant students, both in college and high school, made the momentous choice to “come out” of the status closet and announce that they were illegal immigrants – many of whom were brought to America as children by their parents. Now that that their true status is known, and quite publicly, many of the DREAM Act student supporters are worried about what it will mean for them since the failure of the Act to pass.
With the DREAM Act essentially shelved and the Republican majority holding sway in the Senate, the Obama administration is looking for ways to shore up their immigration stance and gather support around them once again. The DREAM Act, in conjunction with increasing deportation of illegal immigrants with a criminal record, was part of President Obama’s strategy when he was elected into office. It would have allowed immigrants that were illegally brought here as children to become US citizens after they received a higher education or enlisted in the military. For many immigrants, some of them future college students, this was their only chance at a new life.
While the DREAM Act was put on hold on Wednesday, advocates for illegal immigrants obtaining citizenship through an education or military service have set their sights on the year 2012, when it will likely be picked up by the House again. The DREAM Act “would provide qualified people up to the age of 29 with a path to citizenship if they attend college or join the military.” This would make about 2.1 million immigrants eligible, although once the bill has gone through the various stages of approval, a “far smaller number” would meet the requirements.