Dream Act of 2019 - S. 874

116th Congress: H.R. 6; S. 874

The Problem

Of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, more than a million are “Dreamers,” undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as minors and have spent most of their lives living in the United States. In 2012, the Obama Administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to help these Dreamers.

The DACA program provided much needed relief for Dreamers who have no criminal history and are in school (or have graduated) or who serve in the military (or have been honorably discharged). DACA allowed these young people to come out of the shadows and live fully within their communities.

However, the Trump Administration announced on September 5, 2017 an end to the DACA program in March 2018. In response, several immigrants’ rights groups filed suit against the administration. As a result of those suits, three federal courts issued injunctions blocking the Trump-Pence Administration from fully ending the DACA program and requiring them to allow some DACA recipients to renew their status. While these rulings are encouraging, they do not apply to all Dreamers and the future of DACA remains unresolved until these cases conclude. Congress still needs to act to find a permanent solution for the Dreamers.

LGBTQ Dreamers

Undocumented LGBTQ people experience compounded discrimination due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and immigration status, making them some of the most vulnerable individuals in our country. It is estimated that approximately 75,000 Dreamers are LGBTQ, and 36,000 of them have gotten relief through DACA.

In a third of countries around the world, it is a crime to be LGBTQ. Thousands of people every year are arrested, harassed and even murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sending LGBTQ Dreamers back to these countries would gravely threaten their health and safety.

What is the American Dream and Promise Act?

The American Dream and Promise Act would provide Dreamers the opportunity to apply for permanent legal status and eventually become eligible for U.S. citizenship. It would also cancel the removal of undocumented immigrants who have been continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding the bill's enactment, were younger than 18 when they were first brought to the United States, and have no criminal record. In addition, eligible undocumented immigrants must be in school (or have graduated), or be serving in the military (or have received an honorable discharge). After maintaining lawful permanent resident status for five years, these Dreamers would then be able to apply to become U.S. citizens.

The bill also contains protections for recipients of Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

The American Dream and Promise Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) on March 12, 2019 and was passed in the House by a vote of 237-187 on June 4, 2019. The Senate version of this bill, the Dream Act, is similar (though not identical) to the American Dream and Promise Act, and was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on March 26, 2019.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the DACA program in November 2019 and is expected to release a decision in the coming months.

For more information, please contact legislation@hrc.org. Read about other federal legislation pertinent to the LGBTQ community here.

Last Updated: February 28, 2020