Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 31, 2012 – The Congressional Research Service has released a report analyzing the progress of the “Dream Act” proposed legislation, intended to address the status of undocumented immigrants who are also students.
Multiple versions of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minor (DREAM) Act have been formulated by Congress, all intended to address the obstacles that undocumented immigrants face in pursuing postsecondary education. While undocumented immigrants have access to free public education through high school, such persons cannot participate in federal student loan programs and cannot be granted “in-state” tuition benefits, traced to a 1996 law.
This combination of financial obstacles is insurmountable for many undocumented immigrants seeking to pursue higher education, especially given the already precarious position of being unable to work legally, and of facing the possibility of deportation.
The different versions of the Dream Act that have been proposed have generally sought to repeal the 1996 provision prohibiting “in-state” tuition status for undocumented immigrant students, and allow some to become legal permanent residents through the cancellation of removal procedure.
“Dream Act legislation if enacted, offers an opportunity for the children of undocumented aliens to gain status and to make their contribution to the U.S. economy,” said Dallas immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz. “While many decry it as amnesty for lawbreakers, others see it as a benefit for the young and presumed innocent, who had no choice in accompanying their parents to the U.S.”
The effect of the bill could be enormous for young immigrants pursuing higher education. Under one version of the Dream Act, according to the report, about 2 million immigrant students would be eligible to become legal permanent residents.
Future versions of the Dream Act will surely face intense debate in Congress as the question of providing benefits to undocumented immigrants continues to generate controversy.
“The debate on the fate of this legislation is more telling about the intransigence of the parties who can control the outcome than any effort by such parties to actually solve difficult problems for the national good,” said Rabinowitz.
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