The Senate-passed Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Reform Act of 2013 (S. 744), more commonly known as the immigration reform bill, contains key provisions related to the DREAM Act. The bill was a remarkable example of bipartisan collaboration, passing by a vote of 68-32 and laying the groundwork for comprehensive immigration reform. Inclusion of the DREAM Act is considered a victory by many who have been advocating for a pathway to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.
Broadly, S. 744 provides a 13-year path to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants. While there have been various iterations of the DREAM Act since its first bipartisan introduction by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in 2001, S. 744 provides an expedited road to citizenship for DREAMers who meet the following eligibility provisions:
RPI is a new status created under S.744 and would be available to immigrants who were in the United States on or before December 31, 2011, have paid all tax or fee liabilities, and not been convicted of certain crimes. Through the path to citizenship outlined by the DREAM Act, persons who meet the above criteria will be eligible for RPI status and will be able to apply for LPR after just 5 years.
In terms of federal student aid, if an RPI meets the DREAM criteria, they will also be eligible for Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Federal Direct Student Loans. These students are not eligible for the Pell Grant until they become LPRs.
NASFAA has long supported the DREAM Act and is encouraged by its inclusion in S. 744. The bill now moves to the House where it will likely face an uphill battle.
Publication Date: 7/3/2013