Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and 'DREAM Act' Legislation [October 27, 2010] [open pdf - 185KB]
"Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform have urged the President and Congress to pursue reform legislation. While legislative action on comprehensive reform does not appear likely during the remainder of the 111th Congress, there may be an effort to enact a measure, commonly referred to as the 'DREAM Act,' to enable certain unauthorized alien students to legalize their status. Unauthorized aliens in the United States are able to receive free public education through high school. They may experience difficulty obtaining higher education, however, for several reasons. Among these reasons is a provision enacted in 1996 that prohibits states from granting unauthorized aliens certain postsecondary educational benefits on the basis of state residence, unless equal benefits are made available to all U.S. citizens. This prohibition is commonly understood to apply to the granting of 'in-state' residency status for tuition purposes. Unauthorized alien students also are not eligible for federal student financial aid. More broadly, as unauthorized aliens, they are not legally allowed to work and are subject to being removed from the country. Multiple bills have been introduced in recent Congresses to address the unauthorized student population. Most have proposed a two-prong approach of repealing the 1996 provision and enabling some unauthorized alien students to become U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs) through an immigration procedure known as cancellation of removal. Bills proposing this type of relief for unauthorized students are commonly referred to as the DREAM Act. While there are other options for dealing with this population, this report deals exclusively with the DREAM Act approach in light of the widespread congressional interest in it."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33863