The US Congress has recently shown renewed interest in a bill that seeks to legalize undocumented students. This is the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act called the DREAM Act.
A couple of weeks ago Senator Richard Durbin, Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar introduced the bill as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.
Although it did not pass, it laid the groundwork for its reintroduction on the Senate floor this September. Bipartisan support for the bill is growing and there is a great chance that it will be brought to a vote by the entire Senate late this year.
The bill would allow certain undocumented students to adjust their status to that of a conditional permanent resident for six years.
The bill has been introduced in various forms several times in the US Congress since 2001. It was included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which was passed by the Senate, and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
The House has its own version of the bill and is known as the American Dream Act. It was sponsored last March by Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Howard Berman and Lucille Roybal-Allard.
To be eligible for benefits under the bill the student must have entered the US before the age of 16 and physically present for a continuous period of not less than 5 year immediately preceding the enactment.
He must also have been enrolled in college or earned a high school diploma or GED certificate. He must be of good moral character.
As a conditional resident he will be eligible to obtain a driverís license, attend college as an in-state resident, work legally, obtain a social security number and travel outside the U.S.
To remove the condition of his permanent resident status, he would have to either 1) earn a degree from a community college; or 2) complete at least two years of a bachelorís degree; or 3) serve in the US military for at least 2 years.
Supporters of the bill have argued that these students were brought to the US by their parents when they were young and therefore they should not be held accountable for their parentsí action.
Many of these students are smart and talented and have excelled in their school, in sports and in the field of arts, science and technology. Because of their undocumented immigration status they have been unable to pursue their dreams of going to college.
Legalizing them would strengthen our economic infrastructure as it would expand our educated workforce.
Editorís Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For further information, you may call him at 212 695 5281 or log on to his website at www.seguritan.com.