Thursday, June 3, 2010

STARVING for a DREAM and Basic Information about the DREAM ACT

The youth are urging Senator Schumer to move the DREAM Act forward in the Senate as a standalone bill” (New York State Youth Leadership Council). As part of this effort, a group of immigrant youth from the New York State Youth Leadership Council began a hunger strike on June 1, 2010, in front of Senator Charles Schumer’s New York City Office. Whether you believe in comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill, students like Gabriel Martinez, deserve your support! Each year, more than 75,000 students are negatively impacted by congressional in-action on the DREAM Act.

What is the DREAM Act?

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM Act) is legislation that allows undocumented youth to enlist in the U.S. Army or attend a U.S. undergraduate program, an opportunity which forges a path to citizenship that otherwise did not exist. Support for the DREAM Act stems from the idea that fostering these opportunities for undocumented youth will lead to productive contributions back to the country. It is a simple proposition – invest in the undocumented youth now, in anticipation of the future return.

Who Qualifies?

Under the current DREAM Act, you must: (1) Have entered into the United States at least one day before your 16th birthday; (2) Been present in the United States for five (5) continuous years before the date of enactment; (3) Graduated from a United States high school, obtained a GED or have been accepted into a college/university program; (4) Currently be between the ages of 12 and 35; and (5) Show good moral character (e.g. law-abiding).

Once the DREAM Act passes and you have met each of the above requirements you will be eligible to apply for the DREAM Act (the technical process is still to be announced) and upon approval be granted conditional permanent residency as long as you:

Enroll in an academic institution to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher degree
Enlist in one of the branches of the U.S. Military

What is Conditional Permanent Residency? Conditional Permanent Residency is similar to Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) in that you would be entitled to the majority of LPR benefits. Approved applicants could work, drive and travel (365 day limit). In fact, you would even be eligible for student loans and federal work study programming, but not federal financial aid.

I have applied, been approved and enrolled in an academic institution to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher degree or enlisted in one of the branches of the U.S. Military. What happens next? Within 6 years of approval for conditional permanent residency, you must have completed at least two (2) years of academic learning toward your bachelor or higher degree or So long as you stay within the boundaries of these requirements you may apply for Legal Permanent Residency after 5½ of the 6 years have passed. Transitioning from conditional permanent resident to legal permanent resident allows you to apply for U.S. Citizenship. Keep in mind, all candidates must show 5½ years of conditional permanent residency before applying for Legal Permanent Residency.

Please see the full text of the DREAM Act legislation.

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