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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and “DREAM Act” Legislation


Andorra Bruno
Specialist in Immigration Policy

Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform have urged the President and Congress to pursue reform legislation. While prospects for comprehensive reform—especially for proposals including large-scale legalization of unauthorized aliens—may have dimmed since the November 2010 elections, some supporters are advocating passage of more limited legislation to address the status of unauthorized alien students. Such legislation is commonly referred to as the “DREAM 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. 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. However, the Senate failed, on a 55-41 vote, 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.

DREAM Act bills (S. 952, H.R. 1842) have again been introduced in the 112
th Congress, but it is unclear whether such legislation will be considered. This report will be updated as legislative developments occur.


Date of Report: June 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: RL33863
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress


Kristin M. Finklea
Analyst in Domestic Security

Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara
Specialist in Social Policy

Alison Siskin
Specialist in Immigration Policy


The trafficking of individuals within U.S borders is commonly referred to as domestic human trafficking, and it occurs in every state of the nation. One form of domestic human trafficking is sex trafficking. Research indicates that most victims of sex trafficking into and within the United States are women and children, and the victims include U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike. Recently, Congress has focused attention on domestic sex trafficking, including the prostitution of children—which is the focus of this report.

Federal law does not define sex trafficking per se. However, the term “severe forms of trafficking in persons,” as defined in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA, P.L. 106-386) encompasses sex trafficking. “Severe forms of trafficking in persons” refers, in part, to “[s]ex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age....” Experts generally agree that the trafficking term applies to minors whether the child’s actions were forced or appear to be voluntary.

The exact number of child victims of sex trafficking in the United States is unknown because comprehensive research and scientific data are lacking. Sex trafficking of children appears to be fueled by a variety of environmental and situational variables ranging from poverty or the use of prostitution by runaway and “thrown-away” children to provide for their subsistence needs to the recruitment of children by organized crime units for prostitution.

The TVPA has been the primary vehicle authorizing services to victims of trafficking. Several agencies have programs or administer grants to other entities to provide specific services to trafficking victims. Despite language that authorizes services for citizen, lawful permanent resident, and noncitizen victims, appropriations for trafficking victims’ services have primarily been used to serve noncitizen victims. U.S. citizen victims are also eligible for certain crime victim benefits and public benefit entitlement programs, though these services are not tailored to trafficking victims. Of note, specialized services and support for minor victims of sex trafficking are limited. Nationwide, organizations specializing in support for these victims collectively have fewer than 50 beds. Other facilities, such as runaway and homeless youth shelters and foster care homes, may not be able to adequately meet the needs of victims or keep them from pimps/ traffickers and other abusers.

In addition, it has been suggested that minor victims of sex trafficking—while too young to consent to sexual activity with adults—may at times be labeled as prostitutes or juvenile delinquents and treated as criminals rather than being identified and treated as trafficking victims. These children who are arrested may be placed in juvenile detention facilities instead of environments where they can receive needed social and protective services.

Finally, experts widely agree that any efforts to reduce the prevalence of child sex trafficking—as well as other forms of trafficking—should address not only the supply, but also the demand. Congress may consider demand reduction strategies such as increasing public awareness and prevention as well as bolstering investigations and prosecutions of those who buy illegal commercial sex (“johns”). In addition, policy makers may deliberate enhancing services for victims of trafficking. The 112
th Congress may address these and other issues if policy makers choose to take up the reauthorization of the TVPA , which expires at the end of FY2011.


Date of Report: June 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 46
Order Number: R41878
Price: $29.95

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