December 6th, 2010 by Eric J. Ramos
Developing immigration reform policies are crucial. Based on data from the National Immigration Law Center, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools every year. These are young men and women who came to the United States at a very young age and at no choice of their own. They grew up in the United States and have proven to be of good moral character. The idea behind the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act, is to provide these young men and women, who meet certain requirements, the opportunity to obtain conditional permanent residency. These individuals must then attend college or enlist in the military, and by fulfilling either of these requirements, the road to U.S. citizenship will be open to them.
What are the specific eligibility requirements to qualify for the DREAM Act?
• The individual entered the United States before the age of 16
• The individual must have lived in the United States for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to enactment of the DREAM Act
• The individual must have graduated from high school in the United States, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education, such as a college or university
• The individual must be between 12 and 35 years of age when they apply for conditional permanent residency
• The individual must be someone who has good moral character
If an individual can prove that they are eligible, what happens once the DREAM Act gets enacted? Once this important immigration legislation becomes law, eligible, undocumented young men and women may apply for conditional permanent residency through the DREAM Act. Once their conditional permanent residency is approved, they must:
• enroll in an institution of higher learning in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., etc; or
• enlist in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Services
It is very important that within six (6) years of being granted conditional permanent residency, the individual must complete at least two (2) years of college or military service. In this requirement is not fulfilled, the individual will be disqualified from the process.
Once five and a half years (5½) of the six (6) years have passed, the individual can file for adjustment of status in order to remove the conditionality of their permanent residency. Eventually, the person can file for U.S. citizenship once all requirements are fulfilled.
Please contact your legislators and tell them to vote for the DREAM Act and begin to address immigration reform. This is an important step towards immigration reform and providing decent, law abiding people a chance at the American dream.