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Public Statements

Issue Position: The Dream Act

Issue Position

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The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (The "DREAM Act") is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that was introduced in the United States Senate, and the United States House Of Representatives on March 26, 2009. This bill would provide certain undocumented alien students who graduate from US high school, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency. The Alien students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have "acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or have completed at least 2 years in good standing, in program for a bachelor's degree or higher degree in the United States," or have" served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, have received an honorable discharge." Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.

Background

Alien minors in the United States can only obtain permanent status through their parents; there is no independent method to accomplish this. If a child is brought into the country undocumented there is no method for becoming a documented resident. Returning to their country of birth would not guarantee a path to documented status. Attempts to return are often difficult, with roadblocks such as ten year bans on re-entering the U.S.

General Requirements:

Under the new DREAM Act, immigrants may qualify in part, by meeting the following requirements which have not been finalized by congress:

*Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time the Law is enacted

*Must have arrived in the United States before the age of 16

*Must have resided continuously in the United States for at least 5 consecutive years since the date of the arrival

*Must have graduated from a U.S High School , or obtained a General Education Diploma (GED)

*Must have "Good moral Character"

Reform for the Younger Generation

As green card backlogs delay or derail their chances for citizenship, people like Bhaskar are pinning their hopes on a controversial piece of legislation that was meant to address the quandaries of illegal -- not legal -- immigrants. The Dream Act, or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, is a federal bill that would provide immigrant youth who enroll in college or serve in the military an expedited path to citizenship. It would also make it easier for the States to offer undocumented immigrants in --state tuition at public colleges and universities. Many American Students graduate from college and high school each year, and face a roadblock to their dreams: they can't drive, can't work legally, can't further their education, and can"t pay taxes to contribute to the legal status along the way. It is a classic case of lost potential and broken dreams, and permanent underclass of youth it creates is determined to our economy. Former republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said: In short, although these children have built their lives here, they have no possibility of achieving and living the American Dream. What a tremendous loss for them, and what a tremendous loss to our society." The Federal Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), previously introduced as S.729 / H.R.1751, is a bipartisan legislation that would permit these students conditional legal status and eventual citizenship granted that they meet ALL the following requirements.

*If they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age of 35,

*Have lived here continuously for five years

*Graduated from a U.S high school or obtained a GED

*Have good moral character with no criminal record and

*Attend college or enlist in the military

Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students

More than 65,000 undocumented students who have lived in the U.S. for five years or more will graduate from high school this spring. For their native-born classmates, graduation represents a rite of passage into adulthood. For too many undocumented students, it's a dead end. That is the urgent message in a compelling report released today by the College Board at a briefing on Capitol Hill. In "Young Lives On Hold: The College Dream of Undocumented Students" Roberto G. Gonzalez, assistant professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle, makes the case to congress and the American people that the untenable status of these students is a humanitarian and civil issue, as well as an economic one, and debunks the myths that undocumented students limit opportunities for others. The report contends that initial investment in the k-12 education of these students, mandated by the Supreme Court in 1982, is lost if we continue to curb their ability to contribute to society after they graduate from high school. Without educating these students to their full potential, the report suggests, we are wasting their talent and imposing economic and emotional costs on undocumented students and on U.S society as a whole. These young people, American in identity and spirit, have often attended elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. where they have been encouraged to excel academically by their teachers and parents. While federal law does not prohibit undocumented students from attending college, these students face obstacles in admissions, access to in --state tuition and access to financial aid. As the U.S seeks to fill the need for a college- educated workforce, it should not turn its back on youngsters who can strengthen our county's economic and social well-being. College Board President Gaston Caperton said; "The College Board is working to remove the barriers to a college education for all students. Undocumented students deserve the same chance to go to college and fully participate in our society as other students. The Dream Act would provide a way for them to fulfill their dreams and legally contribute to U.S society. We must not turn our backs on these deserving young people. Reintroduced in the 111th congress, and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen that includes Sens. Richard Durbin (d-IL), Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), the DREAM Act is design to allow undocumented immigrant youth who were brought to country as children to obtain legal permanent resident status if they remain in school through high school graduation and go on to college or military services. Estimates suggest that the DREAM Act would provide 360,000 undocumented high school graduates with a legal means to work and secure additional resources for college, and could provide incentives for another 715,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 17 to finish high school (to fulfill the act's eligibility requirements) and pursue postsecondary education.


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