The House voted and passed H.R. 6497, while the Senate moves to a vote on whether to proceed to its own version of the DREAM Act, S. 3992. The senate will be a much more difficult task. The 216-198 vote, mostly on partisan lines, sends the DREAM Act to the Senate, where it was uncertain if supporters had the votes to overcome a certain Republican filibuster against it.
Both bills are strong pieces of legislation which would allow the 65,000 young undocumented students who graduate high school each year to start a pathway to citizenship after completing two years of college or military service. Organizations and individuals from across the country-from California to Kentucky, Oklahoma to New York-have joined together to support the DREAM Act. Thousands of undocumented students and their supportive classmates and teachers have met with their members of Congress, sent letters, held rallies, and staged hunger strikes and other activities in pursuit of making the DREAM Act a reality.
While both bills are similar to the original versions of the DREAM Act introduced in each chamber, they differ in key ways. Under the Senate version of the DREAM Act, applicants are treated as conditional nonimmigrants for ten years before being allowed to apply for permanent residence.
The House version breaks this status up into two five-year periods, and requires students to apply for an extension of their conditional nonimmigrant status after the first five-year period has elapsed. The applicants would have to pay a $525 surcharge on the initial application and a $2,000 surcharge at the beginning of the second five year period. S. 3992 establishes one ten-year period of conditional nonimmigrant status without either fee.
We will update our readers once the Senate returns its vote.