Students push for a clean DREAM Act as deadline looms

Immigration activists across the country have been pushing for Congress to pass a "clean" version of the DREAM Act

DACA recipients and their supporters have been calling for Congress to pass a "clean" version of the DREAM Act, including many students at ASU. 

The DREAM Act, which was was first introduced sixteen years ago, would grant lawful permanent residence to the current 800,000 DACA recipients in the US for eight years. If the recipients remained in good standing, their green cards could lead to citizenship. 

Astrid Pizarro, a senior double majoring in psychology and criminal justice, supports the passage of the DREAM Act, noting that the recipients, who are either students or on work visas, already contribute to the county as if they were citizens.

“I think the DREAM Act needs a permanent solution,"  Pizarro said. "The only way that can be done is guaranteeing a pathway to citizenship for these DACA recipients because they’ve been contributing to our nation without any of the benefits.”

Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was enacted in 2012 by former President Barack Obama and rescinded by President Donald J. Trump in September, can renew their status every two years, though DACA does not include a path to citizenship.

The current DREAM Act bill, proposed by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), is dubbed by immigration advocates as the “clean DREAM Act." The word clean, means the bill would need to pass as it stands now. 

Lawmakers wouldn’t be able to include “add-ons” like funding for the proposed border wall, increased detention centers, or increased funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Unpopular add ons have killed DREAM Act bills in the past.

The DREAM Act would allow immigrants bought to this country illegally as children to be eligible for permanent residence status if they:

"1. were continuously physically present in the U.S. for 4 years preceding the date of the enactment; 

2. were 17 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S. 

3. have been admitted to an institution of higher education, or has graduated from high school or obtained a GED or a high school equivalency diploma, or is enrolled in secondary school or in an education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or in passing a GED or equivalent exam. 

4. have not been convicted of: any federal or state offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than one year (other than a state offense for which an essential element is the person’s immigration status), or three or more federal or state offenses (other than state offenses for which an essential element is the alien’s immigration status) for which the person was convicted on different dates and imprisoned for 90 days or more."

On Sept. 5th, 2017 President Trump gave Congress 90 days to pass immigration legislation that would protect DACA recipients. Now, Congress has 22 days left. Public affairs professor Barry Bozeman said he thinks the chance of passing the bill before the deadline is 30 percent, because of the lack of Republican support. 

“The Republicans have historically not been widely enthusiastic, but at the same time the issue seems to be changing," Bozeman said. "There seems to be receptivity to it.”

DACA recipients and their supporters have been attempting to draw attention to the issue in various ways. 

Last month, they held a protest on campus, holding signs and chanting slogans in support of the DREAM Act. Ten ASU DACA recipients flew to Washington, D.C. to take part in a national march last week, where political science senior Belen Sisa was arrested. 

On Thursday Nov. 16, ASU clubs will host a forum in the Memorial Union about the issue.  Bozeman said the "Dreamers," who he said have had good publicity, should use face to face lobbying to gain support. 

Judah Waxelbaum, political science freshman and member of the ASU College Republicans, said that the bill isn't very popular among Republicans, but that he supports the current bill being proposed. 

“Its not as popular as maybe it should be. The DREAM Act makes a lot of sense given the circumstances of the situation," Waxelbaulm said. “The idea of sending them back there for the crimes of their parents seems immoral.”

Reach the reporter at and follow @brookehanrahan1 on Twitter. 

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