The Center for American Progress released a report on October 1st that found that passage of the DREAM Act would add $329 billion and 1.4 million jobs to the U.S. economy over the next two decades.
Introduced in 2001 by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would provide a path to citizenship for people brought to the U.S. at a young age. To be eligible for the DREAM Act, a person must have arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger, be 35 or younger, been present in the country for at least five years, attended high school, and completed at least two years of higher education or military service.
The DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives in 2010, and achieved a majority of votes in the Senate. However, it fell five votes short of achieving cloture, which would have allowed a simple yes-or-no vote on the measure.
The Center for American Progress used data from the American Community Survey from 2006 to 2010 in order to calculate the number of eligible unauthorized youth. Numbers were calculated using a model of likely education and job attainment of eligible DREAMers to estimate their future earnings. Factors considered in this model were education level, age, sex, race, and ethnicity.
The study found that passage of the DREAM Act would add $329 billion to the American economy by 2030. Cumulative gain in earnings by DREAMers is estimated to be about $148 billion, which will induce economic activity through spending, and generate an impact of $181 billion. This spending will support the creation of 1.4 million new jobs and $10.2 billion in tax revenue. Additionally, all of these quantitative estimates run conservatively and are expected to be much greater than what is shown.
The DREAM Act is often spoken of as a Latin@ issue, but it is something that also affects the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Of the estimated 2.1 million undocumented people who are eligible for the DREAM Act, about 10 percent are Asian. In the UC System alone an estimated 45 percent of the 500-600 undocumented students are of Asian descent.
During a conference call with various publications, Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy at CAP, called DREAMers “the new frontier of advocacy” when describing the work that they have done to advocate for the DREAM Act. Asian American DREAMers are politically active as well: at UCLA, Asian Students Promoting Immigrants Rights through Education (ASPIRE) advocates for the rights of API immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented.
The DREAM Act was reintroduced to the 112th Congress by Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), but it has not yet come up for a vote.