"The 109th and 110th Congresses considered, but did not enact, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included large-scale legalization programs for unauthorized aliens. In the aftermath of these unsuccessful efforts, some interested parties have urged the President and Congress to pursue more limited legislation to address the status of unauthorized alien students. Such legislation is commonly referred to as the 'DREAM [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors] Act.' 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 DREAM Act bills have been introduced in recent Congresses to address the unauthorized student population. […] Bills to legalize the status of unauthorized alien students (S. 952, H.R. 1842, H.R. 3823) have again been introduced in the 112th Congress. It is unclear, however, whether any of these measures will be considered. This report will be updated as legislative developments occur."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33863