New Estimates of Unauthorized Youth Eligible for Legal Status under the DREAM Act
This report discusses the major features of the proposed DREAM Act—a provision incorporated into the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 that extends a six-year conditional legal status to unauthorized youth and a path to eventual permanent legal status if they complete at least two years of higher education or military service within the six-year period—and provides MPI’s estimates of the number of young persons likely to be eligible for immigration relief if the DREAM Act is signed into law.
According to the report’s calculations and analysis, approximately 360,000 qualifying unauthorized youth—high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 24 who have been in the county for five continuous years—would be immediately eligible for conditional legal status under the Dream Act. It predicts that an additional 715,000 unauthorized youth between ages 5 and 17 would become eligible for conditional and then permanent legal status under the proposed legislation sometime in the future. The report also points out that some conditional residents will be unable or choose not to meet the minimum higher education or military service requirements for adjustment to permanent status. It estimates that about 31,000 of the 360,000 young adults immediately eligible for conditional status will not obtain permanent residency and eventually lose their legal status in the United States. For this reason, the report proposes expanding the number of pathways to permanent status by including vocational education programs for non-college educated but technically trained workers.