Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DREAM Act: Latest Version and News

The DREAM Act could come up for a vote Wednesday. The House states there are enough votes to pass. Senate actions depend on tax bill because Republicans say they will block everything this session if they don't get what they want on tax bill.

The reason it has a real chance of passing: Outgoing Congressman have less reason to vote along party lines and Democrats know that with the shift of power coming January, this may be the last chance.

There was a new version introduced last week in the Senate to try to get more Republican votes:
n      Must have entered the United States before the age of 16
n      Must be between the ages of 12 and 30 at the time of application
n      Requires applicants to pay all taxes. English language and civics requirements typically required for naturalization
n      Good moral character requirement back to the date the alien entered the United States
n      Must have been present in the United States for at least 5 consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill
n      Provides a "safe harbor" from removal
n      Requires 1 year to pass after it becomes law to become effective

If the DREAM Act passes as proposed, an undocumented individual meeting those qualifying conditions stated above, would have to do the following:
n      Apply for the DREAM Act and pay the fee (no estimate as to what it could be, 245i fee was $1000)
n      Creates conditional nonimmigrant status for 10 years, followed by 3 years of LPR status prior to application for naturalization
n      Once approved and granted, the individual would have to do one of the following:
n      Enroll in an institution of higher education in order to pursue a bachelor's degree or higher degree or Enlist in one of the branches of the United States Military
n      Within x years of approval for conditional status, the individual must have completed at least two (2) years of one of the options outlined in the previous step
n      Once x years of conditional status has passed, the individual will then be able to apply for Legal Permanent Residency (dropping the conditional part) and consequently will be able to apply for United States Citizenship, which requires 5 years of permanent residency

Of course, the terms and conditions will most likely change if it is passed by the House and Senate, because both versions have to be reconciled, but this is the current version so it gives us a good idea of what can happen.

Students who do not complete the requirements will be disqualified.  Estimates show 2 million people would qualify under this ACT, but estimates also show that more than 60 percent -- nearly 1.3 million -- would not obtain legal status because of financial limitations, competing work and family time demands, low educational attainment and limited English proficiency.

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