July 8, 2010
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, lawmakers are considering bringing the DREAM Act to vote this year. The DREAM Act, or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, is a measure that would provide an opportunity for citizenship to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama supports the act, saying "we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they've grown up. The DREAM Act would do this..."
AZCentral.com reports that the top five states where potential beneficiaries live are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Arizona. In Arizona alone, an estimated 114,000 young illegal immigrants could benefit. Nationwide, an estimated 2.1 million could reap the benefits of the bill.
In order to qualify, immigrants must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16, but must currently be younger than 35. Participants must have been present in the U.S. for at least five years before the law's enactment and must obtain a high school diploma, or equivalent. If those requirements are met, immigrants must then complete at least two years in a bachelor's degree, or higher, program or serve at least two years in the U.S. Military and maintain "good moral character" for six years in order to apply for lawful permanent residence.
The Hill points out that only 38 percent of potential beneficiaries would meet such requirements. Many immigrants will not have enough education to enter the program. In addition, barriers such as English proficiency, poverty or family obligations will keep many young people from fulfilling the law's qualifications. "It really will be beyond means for many who are struggling and who are in poverty to go to school," says Jeanne Batalova, policy analyst at NYU's Migration Policy Institute.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, opponents believe Democrats are merely trying to win the votes of the Hispanic community. Furthermore, they argue that publicly financed education should be for legal citizens only.
Nonetheless, AZCentral.com states that the DREAM Act has bipartisan support and is not as controversial as a comprehensive reform. Because of this, it is more likely to pass. Supporters of the bill say they know many smart, hard-working immigrant teenagers who deserve to stay in the U.S. to pursue a college education. Felipe Matos, a Miami Dade College student who came to the United States from Brazil at the age of 14, told The Chronicle of Higher Education, "All we're asking for is a chance, an opportunity, to contribute to the only place we know and love."
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"DREAM Act could benefit thousands of Arizona immigrants," azcentral.com, July 8, 2010, Erin Kelly
"Obama Calls for Bipartisan Action on Immigration, Including Passage of 'Dream Act'," chronicle.com, July 1, 2010, Michael Sewall
"Study questions how many would qualify for immigration 'Dream' act," thehill.com, July 8, 2010, Puneet Kollipara
"Transcript of Obama's Immigration Speech," blog.wsj.com, July 1, 2010