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Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act
Many children have been brought to the USA illegally by their parents. Some were mere infants or toddlers, when they arrived.
These children have been raised and educated in the USA. Very often they have no connections to the country, where they were born.
The Immigration Laws require them to leave the USA, when they turn 18 or face serious consequences, even if they marry U.S. citizens. They are unable to attend college, get a drivers license or work legally.
It is as though they grow into the “crime” of being here illegally.
What is the Dream ACT?
The Dream Act was first introduced to Congress almost 10 years ago, but has failed to become law since that time.
It has as its goal a path to legalization for certain people, who were under the age of 16, when they were brought to the USA without appropriate visas.
It is not fair for our legal system to punish children for the acts of their parents and this is what the Dream Act will remedy, if it is passed.
The Latest on the Dream ACT
On 9/21/2010, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to pass a motion to proceed to consideration of the fiscal 2011 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 3454), which contains the provisions of the Dream Act.
It is possible that the issue will come before the Senate during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress.
There is no way of knowing if and when the Dream Act will pass the Senate and the House of Representatives.
We shall provide updates on progress on the Act in our monthly newsletter.
If you know people, who could benefit from information on the Dream Act, please suggest that they sign up for our Newsletter. Also please pass on this information to any teachers or school counselors.
More on the Dream ACT
Since there are some people, who are opposed to the Dream Act, we are providing some information on the nature of the Dream Act.
The DREAM ACT is not amnesty. Amnesty was a law that gave green cards to everyone, who was in the country illegally for at least 5 years in 1986. Amnesty also was granted to people who were farm workers, who had been in the country illegally for 3 months.
Amnesty was a wholesale, unmitigated, immediate pass for anyone of any age, who could prove that they had broken the law for at least 5 years (or 3 months). The Dream Act will be an act of mercy with significant strings attached to it.
Who will Benefit From the Dream Act?
The Dream Act would only grant conditional permanent residence to undocumented high school graduates or GED recipients, who were brought here when they were younger than 16 and who have been physically present in the United States for at least five years. This “conditional” status would be removed and the person would be granted an unrestricted green card after six years once the student has either completed two years in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree or has served in the armed services for at least two years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge.
So this Act will be limited to serious students and will not benefit high school dropouts. In addition to the high school graduation or GED, the beneficiaries will have to complete 2 years towards a bachelor’s degree or complete 2 years of honorable military service.
Arguments Against the DREAM ACT
1. The main argument is that it is amnesty.
Amnesty is defined as an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole.
In order to commit an offense most civilized nations require that a person knowingly forms the intention to break the law and then breaks the law. The legal jargon for the intention to the break the law is “mens rea” and the act of breaking the law is “actus reus.”
These children did not have the intention of breaking any laws. The grew into breaking the law.
Furthermore the benefits of the Dream Act are not available to all people, who were brought here illegally.
2. First Secure the Borders.
There are many people, who insist that before we consider any laws regarding reforming our failing immigration legal system, we must first secure the borders and only then will they discuss any changes to our immigration laws.
There is no question that the USA should have secure borders. But to leave graduate high school teenagers hanging and suffering for the “sins” of their parents, until the borders are secure is not the American way of justice.
Why Congress Must Act Now?
If you may not work or drive legally in the USA, you are caught in a web of illegality. While many people will say, “Get out of the USA and go home”, the reality is that the USA is “home” to these teenagers.
So when these high school graduates suddenly face a world, where everything their former class-mates do after graduating school is now illegal for them, what are their “real” options?
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 in the decision of Plyler v Doe observed that denying illegal immigrant children a proper education would likely contribute to "the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime."
There is a compelling urgency to avoid the “crime and welfare” issues that are foisted upon these teenagers, because we have failed to secure our borders.
We can and must pass the Dream Act now, before more and more of these lost souls face the darkness of the underbelly of our society.