July 28 saw the introduction of the American Hope Act of 2017. The bill is intended to provide protection from deportation and the opportunity to gain permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers.
What the American Hope Act Does
The recent bill was put in place to establish a conditional permanent resident status for young immigrants that would last for up to eight years. This would keep them protected from deportation and enable them to work legally while also allowing them to travel outside of the U.S.
There are specific criteria that undocumented immigrants are required to meet. Applicants must establish that they arrived in the U.S. before the age of 18 and have lived in the country since December 31, 2016. These individuals also need to pass all government background checks and demonstrate that they have never been convicted of certain crimes.
There are also ways for Dreamers to change their conditional permanent resident status to a green card or lawful permanent resident status. These include maintaining the conditional permanent resident status for three or more years, continuing to pass government background checks, and remaining free of convictions for criminal offenses.
Other Benefits of the Act
In addition to providing residency to undocumented immigrants until they qualify for lawful permanent resident status, the American Hope Act is beneficial to these individuals in several other ways.
The bill allows Dreamers with permanent resident status to receive federal assistance for higher education, which includes work-study programs, student loans, and federal grants. The bill also helps America’s economy, enabling undocumented immigrants to contribute to their communities and the overall economy through legal employment, while also paying taxes and further developing businesses to open up more jobs to American workers.
The bill is also more helpful to immigrants than the Dream Act of 2017, with fewer requirements. For instance, the Dream Act requires Dreamers to graduate from or complete at least two years of a higher education program, be employed for three or more years, or complete two or more years of military service before they can qualify as lawful permanent residents.
All of these benefits make the American Hope Act a great way for young undocumented immigrants to succeed in the country while protecting them from the threat of deportation until they can gain U.S. citizenship.