This is the final part of a 4 part article discussing various current topics in immigration law. Today's installment deals with new hope for the DREAM Act and its basic eligibility requirements.

By Alan Lee, Esq.

Part IV - DREAM Act has More Hope of Passage This Year

With the Democrats' emphasis on passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year and President Bush's recent words in his South America/Latin American tour that he would work as hard as he possibly could to pass such legislation, hopes for non-documented students in the U.S. appear brighter than ever. The Development Relief Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2007 was introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate on March 6, 2007, and similar legislation, the American Dream Act (H.R. 1275) by Howard Berman (D-IL) on March 1, 2007, in the House. Passage of the legislation would insure that America does not lose this corps of young students who would either be forced to leave the country or in many cases take on positions for which they would be tremendously over-qualified.

To establish eligibility under the legislation, the individual must have first entered the U.S. before the age of 16; be physically present for a continuous period of five years before the law is enacted; and either be in college, completed high school, or obtained a GED, and not be inadmissible for crimes, security or smuggling (or be deportable on the same grounds) although a waiver would be available if there would be extreme hardship to the individual, the individual's child, or his or her parents (if the alien is still a child). A six year period of conditional residence is contemplated, and a petition to remove the conditional basis of the residence status could be made 180 days before to two years after (or any extensions given by Congress) the six year date. Among other requirements, a successful removal petition must show that the student has not left the United States for a total of 365 days during the period of conditional residence and the individual must have two years in good standing in a bachelor's or higher degree program in the U.S. or a college degree in the U.S. or have served in the military for two years. A waiver of the latter condition is available if the individual can show compelling circumstances for not being able to complete one of the three and exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the individual or the individual's spouse, parent, or child who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Children who have not completed high school or are in college or have obtained a GED, but are at least 12 years of age, enrolled full time in a primary or secondary school and meet all the other requirements would be allowed a stay of removal and employment authorization.

As we have recently seen young persons in despair who have either finished college and hold dead-end jobs, or are graduating soon and cannot take on positions from companies that have been impressed by their abilities during internships, we hope that this news on the DREAM Act and a review of its requirements will give them hope. Passage of the DREAM Act as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package or even separately would benefit this country by allowing the youth that we have educated at taxpayer expense to take on their proper roles in American society at a time when other countries are declining because of a lack of skilled workers.

The author is a 26+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

This article 2007 Alan Lee, Esq.


Copyright © 2003-2012 Alan Lee, Esq.
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