House Passes the American Dream and Promise Act
March 22, 2021

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the latest version of the Dream Act, an effort to grant millions of young undocumented immigrants—many of whom are college students—legal status and place them on a pathway to citizenship.

The vote on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) was 228-197, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the bill. It would give young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, including those shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a path to citizenship after 10 years if they meet certain requirements. DACA allowed young undocumented immigrants to become eligible for a work permit, Social Security card, driver’s license, and deferred deportation.

To be eligible for legal status under H.R. 6, immigrants must have been younger than 18 when they came to the United States and must have lived in the country continuously over the previous four years. They must also have an American high school diploma or GED and pass a background check. Those who have committed serious crimes would be ineligible. To be placed on a pathway to citizenship, these young immigrants must earn a college degree or complete two years of a degree program in a higher education institution or technical school, serve in the military, or have been employed in the United States for more than three years.

As ACE President Ted Mitchell noted in a statement, there is bipartisan and widespread support for enacting into law these permanent legal protections.

“But for far too long, and through unsuccessful attempts by the previous administration to end the DACA program, Dreamers have been held in an unacceptable legal and political limbo,” he said. “They have been protected by the courts, but now it is time for Congress to act.”

The House bill would also extend protections to immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) who have seen their status terminated and left in uncertain limbo. Many campuses have students and employees who have lived, worked, and studied while under TPS and DED, and ACE also supports the inclusion of protections for this population in this legislation.

The higher education association community will be strongly advocating for the Senate to approve the American Dream and Promise Act or its own version that Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced last month. That measure has arisen as a prime example in the debate over the Senate filibuster, with Durbin noting that for two decades, despite the fact that it has majority support, his bill has never been able to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to pass.

For more information and assistance in contacting Congress to support the effort to protect Dreamers, see the Remember the Dreamers website. ​