Barack Obama’s presidential victory is fueling widespread optimism among student and immigrant-rights’ groups that Congress and the next White House will endorse long-debated legislation to help undocumented students gain legal status.
These organizations see an opportunity to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, through which undocumented students who complete high school and two years of college could gain conditional legal status and eventual citizenship.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act sole aim is to aide undocumented youth who was brought to the United States as children and have no means of continuing an education in order to contribute to society. Its provisions, would allow undocumented students to enroll in a 2 year higher learning institution, or enroll in the armed forces while serving under a six-year conditional status that would eventually allow them a path to permanent resident status.
· Proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16.
· Proof of residence in the United States for a least five (5) consecutive years since their date of arrival.
· Must be between the ages of 12 and 30 at time of bill enactment.
· Having graduated from an American high school, or obtained a GED.
· "Good moral character," essentially defined as the absence of a significant criminal record (or any major drug charges), compliance with Selective Service laws and an absence of fraudulent information in documents
Keep in mind that the student is to obey ALL of the above requirements and maintain their good moral character for the six-year period in order to benefit from the Dream Act.
This bill was drafted by (D) Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, and has since been presented in several sessions of Congress where it has received much bipartisanship support. Critics of the bill, however, stand firm that these students would take away federal money in order to fund their education, leaving citizens of the country short changed and without any funding. Let me assure you that this is a popular misconception (and there are plenty of others that I would gladly shed light on if you happened to have any questions) as these students ARE NOT allowed to receive any sort of financial aide, or grants from the government.
The Dream Act was introduced in the Senate in October of that same year. Senator Sessions, among others led the opposition that defeated the bill with a vote count of 52 in favor and 44 against the measure.
A year has since gone by, and it is now time to renew our efforts and make sure that the Obama administration (a clear supporter of the bill) hears our voices and the importance of the passage of the Dream Act. Please check out the website CHANGE.ORG.
“Our strategy is to get it done in the first 100 days [of the new administration],” says Shanta Driver, spokeswoman for BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary.
Groups such as the United States Student Association, based in Washington, D.C., also share that view. “The DREAM Act is one of our top priorities for the first 100 days,” says Angela Peoples, USSA legislative director.
Make your voice heard and let your legislator know that you support the DREAM Act.
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