DREAM Act is Not Amnesty

Despite the recent electoral upheaval, there are still those who wish to see the DREAM Act come to fruition. Whether it will or not may be questionable.

All along, advocates for the DREAM Act have insisted that there be a rational, thoughtful approach to how this is handled. They suggested moderation, accommodation, acceptance and above all else, some form of movement on the political front to deal with the issue of young people who were brought to this country as babies, adolescents or toddlers. These are young people who did not chose to come here on their own, but were brought here by their families.

A lot of these young adults have chosen to go to school or even enlist in the military. Many of them are undocumented and live each day of their lives wondering when the other shoe is going to drop; when they may be caught and deported back to a place they don’t even remember as being home. This conundrum is the major rasion d’etre behind the DREAM ACT. Is there a way to allow these young adults to gain legal status and qualify for citizenship? Well, yes there is, according to the DREAM Act, which has yet to see the light of day.

Unfortunately, the DREAM Act has become, like CIR, another political football. Also like CIR, the DREAM Act seems to be, once again, on the backburner in terms of on the Hill legislation progress or lack thereof. What we have seen is that the Democrats want the Hispanic vote to stand by them, which is a difficult proposition given the lack of real progress on immigration issues.

On the other side of the fence are the Republicans, who need to make friends with the Hispanic voters. However, will their promises of reform or progress be any different than what is currently being flouted about the Hill? A good question. Likely any political promise to deal with CIR, the DREAM Act or anything else relating to immigration is doomed for rhetorical comment – period. Action seems to be missing, much to the dismay of thousands of people whose lives are in limbo thanks to the current immigration policies in force.

What we all need to realize is that the DREAM Act is not amnesty. It is a legitimate way for young Latinos to become American citizens. It is not a free ride. Immigrants have to be younger than 16 when they came to the USA and have lived here for at least 5 years. They need to have a high school diploma or GED or be going to university or other higher learning institute. They need to be of good moral character.

Those who qualify would get a 6-year conditional resident status and then may get a green card and permission to live and work in the U.S. permanently. They may attempt to apply for citizenship after they get the green card. It is hardly a free ride or amnesty, is it?

What’s going to happen to the DREAM Act? If anyone knows, it would be nice if they shared it with everyone else waiting to find out what will happen to their lives on hold.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit Rifkinandfoxisicoff.com.

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