The Justice department is likely to challenge the controversial Arizona immigration law. The challenge is on the premise that Arizona is interfering and taking over federal authority to control the border and enforce immigration law. The only real, long term solution to this vexing problem is passing a comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, every effort towards comprehensive immigration reform has failed so far. Both the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Cornyn-Kyl bill failed in 2005. The comprehensive immigration reform act of 2006 did pass in the senate but never passed in the house. The comprehensive immigration reform act of 2007 was never even voted on. In the current political climate, in which the Republican Party says “no” to everything, there is little chance that there will be a comprehensive immigration reform this year.
What is hanging in this whole process is the fate of children brought into the US before the age of 16. The DREAM Act, or, in its full name, The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was introduced as a standalone bill in 2001 and was later included in the comprehensive bill which is in presently in limbo, risking the future of hundreds of innocent students.
The DREAM Act does not write a blank check to all undocumented workers. It applies only to children who were brought into the country before the age of 16, lived here for five consecutive years prior to enactment of the law, and graduated from a US high school, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education. These students will not be eligible for any federal grant assistance such as Pell Grants. If the Act is passed, these students will only receive six years of conditional permanent residency. After the sixth year, if they meet certain conditions such as finishing at least two years of college, or served in the military for two years, they will be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
These youths do not know any other home other than where they live, America. It was not their choice to come here and they did not violate any laws. They have been studying hard and secured admission to colleges. They will have to complete a minimum of two years of college to apply for permanent residency. Denying their existence and not providing them the opportunity for higher education will create an army of undocumented high school drop outs. The DREAM Act can help them to become productive citizens and contribute to the society they live in.
Comprehensive Immigration reform is not in sight. It is time to pass DRAEM Act as a standalone bill and help these students.