(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced that he will sponsor the Little Dreamers amendment, an amendment that would ensure that young children are not excluded from the DREAM Act’s pathway to citizenship simply because of their age. Blumenthal will offer this measure as an amendment to the Senate’s immigration bill (S.744).
“The Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation is a historic step, but it should not exclude the littlest DREAMers – children brought to this country through no fault of their own who are too young to qualify for the five-year pathway to citizenship that the DREAM Act provides,” Blumenthal said. “My amendment would ensure that all child immigrants have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream in the country they call home.”
The DREAM Act, which is included in the Senate’s immigration bill, provides a five-year path to citizenship for youth who entered the U.S. prior to age 16, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, and earned a college diploma, attended two years of college, or spent four years in the military. However, the bill does not provide this five-year path to citizenship for youth who entered the U.S. as children but are too young to have graduated from high school or completed a GED. Instead, these children are required to follow the standard adult path to citizenship, which could mean up to a 13-year wait for the youngest children.
Blumenthal’s amendment would provide younger children with the same five-year pathway to citizenship offered to older youth under the DREAM Act. Specifically, the amendment would allow children who are under the age of 18 upon completing five years of registered provisional status to be eligible to adjust to lawfully permanent resident status and be immediately eligible for citizenship.
“Thirteen years is a lifetime for a child, and much too long for kids to wait for citizenship. The littlest kids have the biggest dreams, and Senator Blumenthal’s amendment would make those dreams come true much sooner. Passing the Little Dreamers amendment is the right thing to do for children, and the right thing to do for our country,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
"As DREAMers, we know what it's like to spend your childhood growing up in the U.S., the only country most of us know as home," said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy for United We Dream. "Little Dreamers have grown up here and should be on the same track to citizenship as DREAMers who are older."
"We fully support Senator Blumenthal's decision to sponsor the Little Dreamers amendment. The idea behind a DREAMer accelerated path is that our bright children and youth are able to fully contribute to our country by pursuing careers that would not only benefit them but would benefit this country. It is not right to give some students the opportunity but deny it to others. This amendment would encourage all our children to work hard and keep on dreaming, because we believe in them as much as they believe in the American Dream," said Ana María Rivera, Legal and Policy Analyst at Junta for Progressive Action in Connecticut.
Blumenthal’s amendment has been endorsed by more than 180 organizations. A list of these organizations can be found here: http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/download/little-dreamers-one-pager.