US Immigration Law update: The DREAM Act fails to pass

Senate blocks The DREAM Act

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) is designed to provide a path for legal status to people who came to the United States illegally as children.

It passed through the House of Representatives in November of this year, but did not have the number of votes it needed to pass in the Senate.

The DREAM Act: numbers and procedures

Under the DREAM Act, those eligible have had to have come to the United States at the age of 15 or under, as well as graduate high school and live in the United States for 5 years.

Unfortunately, many are quick to jump to conclusions when presented with life-changing Acts like this. Opponents are saying that the DREAM Act provides those who come into the country illegally with a “backdoor” option and rewards those who break the law. The DREAM Act sets forth a number of very strict conditions that allow illegal students the ability to work very hard to obtain legal status so they can work, pay taxes and live in the United States, as opposed to remain in limbo, not working or having to work under the table to survive.

It is estimated that out of the 65,000 students with illegal status that graduate every year, less than 13,000 can meet the obligations set out by the Dream Act, and the Act would not automatically or immediately grant legal status to “hundreds of thousands” of illegal students, as some media is reporting.

They must be of good moral character, submit to thorough background and physical examinations as well as pay back taxes and speak English in order to have a chance to earn legal immigrant status after 2 years, which is after the 6 years of temporary residency status they have to obtain their degree or join the military. They also cannot sponsor any of their family members for at least 12 years.

According to The Department of Homeland Security, immigration officials are very unlikely to put forth a significant amount of effort to catch and deport young illegal immigrants who have not committed any crimes. The DREAM Act would provide these students with a shot at leading a normal life and contributing to the United States, instead of preventing them from having a future because their parents decided to break the law.

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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