DREAM Act-Eligible Poised to Build on the Investments Made in Them

Donald Kerwin
Robert Warren
Center for Migration Studies

Editorial Credit: Christopher Penler / Shutterstock.com

DREAM Act-Eligible Poised to Build on the Investments Made in Them


This paper presents the results of a study by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) on potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act of 2017 (the “DREAM Act” or “Act”). The study reveals a long-term, highly productive population, with deep ties to the United States. In particular, it finds that:

  • More than 2.2 million US residents would qualify for conditional residence under the DREAM Act.
  • An additional 929,000 — who are now age 18 and over — arrived when they were under 18, but have not graduated from high school and are not enrolled in school and, thus, would not currently qualify for status under the Act.
  • The DREAM Act-eligible can be found in large numbers (5,000 or more) in 41 states and more than 30 counties, metropolitan areas, and cities.
  • Potential DREAM Act recipients have lived in the United States for an average of 14 years.
  • Sixty-five percent (age 16 and above) participate in the labor force, with far higher rates in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Utah, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oregon.
  • This population works heavily in sales and related occupations; food preparation and serving; construction and extracting; office and administrative support; production; transportation and material moving; and building/grounds cleaning and maintenance.
  • Many of the DREAM Act-eligible are highly skilled and credentialed.
  • 70,500 are self-employed.
  • Eighty-eight percent speaks English exclusively, very well, or well.
  • 392,500 have US-citizen children, and more than 100,000 are married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Twenty-nine percent has attended college or received a college degree.
  • The DREAM Act-eligible include 50,700 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras, 45 percent of whom live in the Miami metro area, Los Angeles County, the Washington, DC area, Houston, New York City, the San Francisco metro area, and the City of Dallas.

The study also underscores the immense investment — $150 billion — that states and localities have already made in educating these young Americans. It argues that over time and with a path to citizenship the return on this investment will increase by virtually every indicia of integration — education levels, employment rates, self-employment numbers, US family members, and English language proficiency.


Author Names

Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren

Journal Journal on Migration and Human Security
Date of Publication 2018
Pages 61-73
DOI 10.1177/233150241800600103
Volume 6
Issue Number 1