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IMMIGRATION

IMMIGRATION REFORM ON THE WAY?


ANDY STRICKLAND
By ANDY STRICKLAND

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (The "DREAM Act") is a piece of proposed federal legislation that was introduced in the United States Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives on March 26, 2009.

This bill would provide certain undocumented immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools, are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as children, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency. The students will obtain temporary residency for a lapse of six years.

Within the six-year period, a qualified student must attend college, and earn a two year degree, or serve in the military for two years in order to earn citizenship after the six years period. If student does not comply with either his/her college requirement or military service requirement, temporary residency will be taken away and student will be subjected to deportation.

According to the 2009 version of the senate bill, DREAM Act beneficiaries must have:

1. Proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16.

2. Proof of residence in the United States for a least five (5) consecutive years since their date of arrival, compliance with Selective Service.

3. Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at time of bill enactment.

4. Having graduated from an American high school, or obtained a GED.

5. Have good moral character.

During the first six years, the immigrant would have been granted "conditional" status, and would have been required to graduate from a two-year community college or complete at least two years towards a four-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military.

After the six-year period, an immigrant who met at least one of these three conditions would have been eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status. During this six-year conditional period, immigrants would not have been eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, though they would have been able to apply for student loans and work study.

If the immigrant did not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six-year time period, their temporary residence would have been revoked and they would be subject to deportation. They also must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years.

Being convicted of a major crime or drug-related infraction would have automatically removed the six-year temporary residence status and they would have been subject to deportation.

If the immigrant met all of the conditions at the end of the six-year conditional period, they would have been granted a permanent residency, which would have eventually allowed them to become U.S. citizens.

We will know in the coming months whether this piece of legislation will be signed into law.

Andy G. Strickland, Esq., an immigration attorney at The National Immigration Law Group in St. Petersburg, represents clients worldwide in such matters as visas, green cards, permanent residence, business immigration, citizenship, asylum and deportation defense. He can be reached at (727) 323-8188 or visit www.ImmigrationGroup.us



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