During the election campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., promised to bring the DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) to a floor vote in December as a stand-alone bill. So did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Californians should hold them to that pledge.
Senate Bill 3827 would resolve the immigration status of young people raised and educated in this country, but whose parents entered the country illegally. These kids live in a legal purgatory through no fault of their own – and this country, traditionally at least, has taken the view that kids shouldn't be punished for the crimes of their parents.
The Dream Act would give temporary legal status to those who arrived in the United States before age 16, have been in the country for five continuous years before the bill's passage, have graduated from a U.S. high school and have no criminal record. The bargain is that they have to go to college or join the U.S. military. Only then can they get a green card within six years – the first step on a path to citizenship.
The Dream Act grants no one automatic citizenship. Getting conditional status is a limited, rigorous privilege, not an entitlement.
If it passes, California would be the biggest beneficiary. A July analysis by the Migration Policy Institute titled "DREAM vs. Reality": An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries" (www.migrationpolicy.org/ pubs estimates that about 553,000 individuals educated and living in this state could be eligible.
Two recent, high-profile California cases highlight the need to remedy the situation for these out-of-status young people.
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