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"Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from
American high schools. While many hope to pursue higher education, join
the military, or enter the workforce, their lack of legal status places
those dreams in jeopardy and exposes them to deportation. Over the last
decade, there has been growing bipartisan consensus that Congress should
provide legal immigration status for young adults who came to the
country as children and graduated from American high schools.
Since 2001, when the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien
Minors (DREAM) Act was first introduced as bipartisan legislation, its
main provision—providing permanent resident status (i.e. a “green card”)
upon completion of two years of college or service in the military—has
held out hopes of a lasting solution for these young people. As the
current political environment has become more polarized, bipartisan
support for the DREAM Act has waned. Recently, however, new, more
narrow proposals have circulated that either restrict eligibility for
permanent residency to a smaller group of young people or offer no
dedicated path to permanent residency (and, eventually, U.S.
In recent months, much attention has been focused on an as yet
undisclosed proposal from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that would reportedly
offer temporary legal status for undocumented high-school graduates but
no dedicated path to permanent residency. In January 2012, Rep. David
Rivera (R-FL) introduced the ARMS Act, which would require military
service as a condition for obtaining permanent resident status. In May
2012, Rep. Rivera also introduced the STARS Act, which would permit
undocumented students to become permanent residents if they complete a
four-year degree, provided that they were generally under the age of 19
at the time of application.
This fact sheet explores the differences between these various
proposals, focusing on the implications of a direct path to permanent
residency. In particular, we examine the assumption that the regular
immigration system offers a solution for undocumented youth." - IPC, June 1, 2012.