Under the version of the DREAM Act (S. 952) currently before Congress, undocumented immigrants who complete two years of college or military service could ultimately obtain permanent residency (i.e. a “green card”), a prerequisite for obtaining U.S. citizenship. Relief would be available to individuals who, among other things, entered the country before age 15, have resided in the United States for at least five years, and initially apply before age 29. (The DREAM Act would also repeal a federal law barring states from offering lower tuition rates to undocumented students on account of their in-state residency.)
Similarly, each of Rep. Rivera’s proposals would put qualified applicants on a path to permanent residency after a prior period in conditional status. Under the ARMS Act, which Rivera introduced in January, undocumented immigrants could eventually obtain permanent residence if they previously spent two years in active military service or four years in the reserves. Meanwhile, under the STARS Act, which was introduced this week, undocumented graduates of four-year colleges in the United States could secure green cards after eight years in temporary status, although most would have to initially apply before age 19.
By contrast, Sen. Rubio’s alternative proposal would reportedly provide undocumented youths with temporary immigration status while in college or the military but, importantly, contain no dedicated provision for obtaining permanent residency. Instead, as a spokesman for the Senator told a Washington newspaper, beneficiaries would have to use “existing pathways” to obtain permanent residency—meaning they could only qualify if they would otherwise be eligible for a green card.