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Monday, December 23, 2013

Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and "DREAM Act" Legislation - RL33863


Andorra Bruno
Specialist in Immigration Policy

Immigration reform has been hotly debated in recent years. Broadly construed, it encompasses a range of issues, including the highly controversial question of legalizing large numbers of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. A historically less controversial, more targeted legalization proposal has been included in the “DREAM Act,” legislation that seeks to enable certain unauthorized aliens who entered the United States as children to obtain legal immigration status. The name DREAM Act derives from the bill title, Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, but it refers more broadly to measures to provide immigration relief to unauthorized students, whether or not particular bills carry that name.

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 typically 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. 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. While there are other options for dealing with this population, this report deals exclusively with the DREAM Act approach in light of the considerable congressional interest in it.

In the 111
th Congress, the House approved DREAM Act language as part of an unrelated bill, the Removal Clarification Act of 2010 (H.R. 5281). The Senate, however, failed to invoke cloture on a motion to agree to the House-passed DREAM Act amendment, and the bill died at the end of the Congress. The House-approved language differed in key respects from earlier versions of the DREAM Act. Bills to legalize the status of unauthorized alien students were again introduced in the 112th Congress.

In 2012, in the absence of congressional action on DREAM Act legislation, the Obama Administration announced that certain individuals who entered the United States as children and meet other criteria would be considered for relief from removal. Under a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum, these individuals can apply for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals (or DACA, as the program is known). Successful applicants are granted deferred action for two years, subject to renewal, and can apply for employment authorization.

DREAM Act legislation has been considered in the 113
th Congress as part of comprehensive immigration reform bills. The Senate-passed Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) includes DREAM Act provisions. The same DREAM Act language is included in a related bill with the same name introduced in the House (H.R. 15). The DREAM Act provisions are integrated with the broader legalization provisions in these bills. As of this writing, no stand-alone DREAM Act bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress.

Date of Report: December 3, 2013
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: RL33863
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress - R43320


Andorra Bruno
Coordinator Specialist in Immigration Policy

Michael John Garcia
Legislative Attorney 

William A. Kandel
Analyst in Immigration Policy 

Margaret Mikyung Lee
Legislative Attorney 

Marc R. Rosenblum
Specialist in Immigration Policy 

Alison Siskin
Specialist in Immigration Policy 

Ruth Ellen Wasem
Specialist in Immigration Policy



Immigration reform is squarely on the legislative agenda of the 113
th Congress. The Senate has passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes provisions on border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, legalization of unauthorized aliens, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, and humanitarian admissions. For its part, the House has taken a different approach to immigration reform. Rather than considering a single comprehensive bill, the House has acted on a set of immigration bills that address border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, and nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. House committees have reported or ordered to be reported the following immigration bills: Border Security Results Act of 2013 (H.R. 1417); Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2278); Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772); Agricultural Guestworker (AG) Act (H.R. 1773); and Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas (SKILLS Visa) Act (H.R. 2131). Other House bills are reportedly under development.

In addition to their work on immigration reform legislation, the House and Senate have acted on other immigration-related bills in the 113
th Congress. Among these measures, the 113th Congress has passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-4), which includes provisions on noncitizen victims of domestic abuse or certain other crimes and on victims of human trafficking. Another enacted measure (P.L. 113-42) extends a special immigrant visa program for certain Iraqi nationals who have worked for or on behalf of the United States.

This report discusses these and other immigration-related issues that have received legislative action or are of significant congressional interest in the 113
th Congress. While the report covers S. 744, as passed by the Senate, a more complete treatment of that bill can be found in CRS Report R43097, Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the 113th Congress: Major Provisions in Senate- Passed S. 744, by Marc R. Rosenblum and Ruth Ellen Wasem. For the most part, DHS appropriations are not covered in this report and are addressed in CRS Report R43147, Department of Homeland Security: FY2014 Appropriations, coordinated by William L. Painter.

Date of Report: November 20, 2013
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: R43320
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Monday, November 25, 2013

What Would a Secure Border Look Like?


Marc R. Rosenblum
Specialist in Immigration Policy

This hearing raises an important question for Members of Congress concerned about border security: What would a secure border look like? The United States spends billions of dollars and expends extraordinary effort to secure the border; and the Department of Homeland Security collects tables full of enforcement data. Yet after years of grappling with this question, no consensus exists about how to measure border security or how to evaluate existing enforcement efforts. Thus, while the White House asserts that our borders today “are more secure that at any time in the past several decades,”
1 Chairman Miller and others have warned against “accepting empty promises on border security,” and asked “how the American people can be assured that the border is truly secure?”

My testimony begins by describing how to measure border security and identifies several concrete steps that could be taken to develop better border metrics. The second part of my testimony reviews recent border security and immigration enforcement efforts and identifies possible gaps in these efforts. I conclude by offering a tentative assessment of the current state of border security.

Date of Report: February 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: T-022613
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