'Little DREAMers' Amendment Would Broaden Kids' Citizenship Eligibility

One forthcoming amendment to the giant immigration reform bill working its way through the Senate aims to nix graduation requirements in the DREAM Act to include younger kids.

The DREAM Act -- which provides a five-year path 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 -- was basically enacted via executive fiat last year but is included in the immigration bill crafted by the bipartisan Group of Eight.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) lamented that the bill doesn't provide this five-year path to citizenship for youth who entered the U.S. as children but are too young to have graduated from high school or completed a GED.

Hence, his "Little Dreamers" amendment.

“The Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation is a historic step, but it should not exclude the littlest DREAMers – children brought to this country through no fault of their own who are too young to qualify for the five-year pathway to citizenship that the DREAM Act provides,” Blumenthal said. “My amendment would ensure that all child immigrants have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream in the country they call home.”

Currently, children have to wait up to 13 years, just like adults, if they don't meet DREAM Act requirements. The amendment would allow children who are under the age of 18 upon completing five years of registered provisional status to be eligible to adjust to lawfully permanent resident status and be immediately eligible for citizenship.

Blumenthal cites the support of more than 180 special-interest groups, including the AFL-CIO, ACLU and La Raza.