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house Bill H.R. 1751

Should Some Undocumented Immigrant Students Have A Path To Citizenship?

Argument in favor

The U.S. cannot continue to penalize undocumented students who were brought here as children and are not to blame for their lack of documentation. These talented hardworking people — who will benefit the U.S. — deserve a path to citizenship.

Argument opposed

This bill encourages and even rewards illegal immigration. Offering federal aid for college would be like a magnet, attracting more and more illegal immigrants, plus their family members.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
      Higher Education and Workforce Investment
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Citizenship
    IntroducedMarch 26th, 2009

What is House Bill H.R. 1751?

This bill amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to allow undocumented immigrants to collect the higher education benefits that they are eligible for based on state residence. When this legislation was introduced, undocumented immigrants — raised in the U.S., and who had completed high school — who applied for colleges in their states were not only ineligible for federal loans, but also for in-state tuition. 

The American Dream Act would give undocumented immigrants a path to conditional permanent legal status, eventual citizenship, or a cancellation of their deportation if they:

  • Entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and have been present in the U.S. for at least five years (as of the enactment of this legislation.)

  • Are of "good moral character."

  • Aren't otherwise deportable based on specific requirements covered in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

  • Have been accepted into an institution of higher education or have earned a high school diploma or an equivalent.

Undocumented immigrants who have satisfied these requirements prior to this legislation’s enactment can apply for conditional permanent resident status.


Undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and have lived in the U.S. at least five years, their families, institutions of higher education, the U.S. armed forces, Federal financial aid services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the DHS Secretary.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1751

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, a CBO analysis of a similar bill (the DREAM Act of 2010) found that implementing these types of bills would increase revenues by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years, while increasing spending by $912 million over that period. This led to a net projection of $1.4 billion of deficit reduction between 2011-2020, averaging $140 million in deficit reduction per year.

More Information


The DREAM Act (the foundational bill that H.R. 1751 is a companion to) was initially introduced into Congress in 2001, and reintroduced again in 2003, 2005, 2007, twice in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. None of these introductions led to the legislation being passed, but that hasn’t prevented elements of the law from being implemented in other ways.

In 2011, the state of California enacted its own version of the DREAM Act allowing students who are not legal U.S. residents that meet certain criteria to apply for state-funded financial aid.

The next year, the Obama administration announced that his administration would cease deportations of young illegal immigrants that match criteria set forth in the DREAM Act. In 2014 the Obama administration expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which also grants temporary legal status to immigrants that fit the DREAM Act profile.  

There are currently 20 states that offer in-state tuition to undocumented students. Of these policies, 16 were enacted by state legislatures and the other four were implemented by state university systems. On the other side, there are five states that prevent undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition benefits.


Sponsoring Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) Press Release 

Co-Sponsoring Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) Press Release

National Council of La Raza (Fact Sheet)

American Civil Liberties Union (In Favor)

American Association of University Women (In Favor)

CBO Estimate (Of Related DREAM Act)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user charliekjo


American Dream Act

Official Title

To amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.