(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced that they are sponsoring the Little DREAMers amendment – an amendment to the immigration bill that would ensure that young children are not excluded from the DREAM Act’s pathway to citizenship simply because of their age. Blumenthal and Murkowski plan to offer the amendment on the Senate floor for a vote. The measure is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“The Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation is a historic step, but it should not exclude the littlest DREAMers – children brought to this country by their parents who are too young to qualify for the five-year pathway to citizenship the DREAM Act provides,” Blumenthal said. “Our 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 pathway 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 pathway to citizenship for youth who entered the U.S. as children but are too young to have graduated from high school or earned a GED. Instead, these children are required to follow the standard adult pathway to citizenship, which could mean up to a 13-year wait for the youngest children.
Blumenthal and Murkowski’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 and are still enrolled in school or have a GED to be eligible to adjust to lawfully permanent resident status and be immediately eligible for citizenship. More than 180 organizations support the Little DREAMers amendment, including First Focus Campaign for Children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Education Association.
“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 this 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.
“This is an important amendment that would ensure that younger children brought here by their parents are treated equally and are able to get a running start in achieving the American dream,” said Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “This amendment represents an investment in America’s future. The children who will benefit from it will one day be her leaders.”
“Educators know that providing our students – including our Little Dreamers – every opportunity to succeed is part of the fabric of our schools, communities, and our country,” said Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association. “The Little Dreamers amendment upholds these principles to do right by children so they can achieve their full potential.”