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Articles Tagged with DREAM Act

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travel-823299_640In the United States, the debate on extensive immigration law reform has been a constant thread of conversation that runs through a variety of sectors. With the Presidential race shifting into high gear, political representatives have been quick to capitalize on the concerns that grip a considerable segment of the American public. Martin O’Malley, a presidential candidate for the Democratic party, expressed his views on the question of immigration reform and the impact of immigrants on the economic landscape of the United States. O’Malley was prominently featured at the recent annual conference of the National Council of La Raza. Using his family’s history and experiences as immigrants as a springboard, O’malley addressed the Latino public and detailed his views on what the country needs to do to move towards progress as far as the topic of immigration is concerned.

O’malley’s grandfather hails from Ireland and arrived in the United States without a lot of advantages. O’Malley’s prominent position in U.S. politics leaves him in a unique position given his personal link to immigration related issues. O’malley’s political history when it comes to immigration related issues tends to favor immigrants. One of O’malley’s biggest contributions to the immigration crusade involves the DREAM act during his tenure as governor in Maryland.

When O’malley was governor of Maryland, he signed the DREAM act into law when the federal government was dragging its feet. The decision gave thousands of undocumented immigrants access to educational benefits. The DREAM act is a legislative proposal that is geared towards granting conditional residency status to immigrants who are able to meet specific qualifications. Some of the requirements stipulated in the DREAM act include a continuous period of residency within the United States for at least 5 years, a tangible demonstration of good moral character, an absence of a criminal record, and proof that an immigrant entered the country before the age of 16.

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Ruling by Arizona Judge Qualifies Immigrants to Pay In-State TuitionWhile opinion continues to be split when it comes to the controversial topic of immigration reform, there are a number of welcoming developments that prove to be encouraging for undocumented immigrants. One of the positive developments that impacts immigrants involves a recent ruling that has been made in favor of the individuals who are covered by the DREAM act. The Development, Relief, and Education for alien minors act is a legislative proposal that grants conditional residency status to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before they reached the age of 16. Undocumented immigrants who fall under this category must live in the country for a minimum of 5 years, graduate from a U.S. high school or obtain a GED, demonstrate good moral character, and pass a series of background checks and reviews before they can transition from a conditional residency status to permanent residency under the DREAM act. Now, a judge in Arizona has ruled that the immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to pay the same tuition fee in state schools as other Arizona residents do.

The decision comes as a satisfying conclusion to a case that involved the Maricopa Community College system. Shortly after President Obama unveiled his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Maricopa Community College system began offering in – state tuition to immigrants who qualified for the DREAM act. The decision attracted the attention of Attorney General Tom Horne who felt that the dreamers did not have sufficient rights to qualify for paying in – state tuition. Horne cited Proposition 300 as the basis for his case. Proposition 300 requires students who are not permanent residents to pay nonresident tuition. Nonresident tuition more than doubles the rate of in – state tuition.

In response to Horne’s assertions, Arizona judge Arthur Anderson ruled that the dreamers do qualify for in – state tuition given the fact that Obama’s DACA program allows them to apply for work permits. Anderson states that the work permit issued for these undocumented immigrants is enough documentation to prove that their presence in the country is legal, contrary to Horne’s assertions. Anderson solidified his decision by asserting that the federal government is the sole entity that gets to decide whether an immigrant’s presence in the United States is legal or otherwise. For years, a number of states (Arizona being one of them) have tried to weigh in on the legal status of undocumented immigrants. Now, Anderson’s decision squarely places the responsibility on the federal government’s shoulders.

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DREAM ActImmigration issues continue to dominate the political debate as Texas makes a move to repeal a bill that offered in – state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Caught squarely in the middle of this debate is former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In 2011, Perry signed the controversial Texas “DREAM” act into law and it was a move that landed him in hot water almost immediately. During his 2012 Presidential bill, critics were quick to question the wisdom behind his decision to back a law that offered educational benefits for undocumented immigrants. At the time, Perry’s response to the criticism was passionate. Perry exclaimed that depriving the children of undocumented immigrants of a decent education would be a heartless move. Perry went on to state that extending these benefits to immigrants would ensure that they would become productive and not prove to be detrimental to the state’s development.

The current situation surrounding the future of the Texas “DREAM” act is grim. A Texas State Committee is in the process of taking up a bill that would effectively dissolve the Texas “DREAM” act and with it, the benefits that it provided various immigrants. The “DREAM” act allowed immigrants residing in Texas to avail of tuition benefits. Undocumented immigrants who have resided in the state for at least 3 years without graduating from high school could avail of the tuition benefit for as long as they substantiated that they intend to apply for citizenship at the earliest possible opportunity.

Immigrants who are looking for the same measure of support from Perry may be in for a bit of a surprise. Perry is expected to make a bid for the Presidency again this year but he may take a step back from the passionate stance that he’s displayed during his previous bid. This move might be largely borne out of a response to some of the concerns that the conservative sector possesses when it comes to immigration issues. Conservatives who want a tighter rein on immigration reform policies might not look too kindly on his continued support for the Texas “DREAM” act. A spokesperson from Perry’s camp has expressed a message that is decidedly more calculated than the previous emotional exhortations that were employed in 2012. Using the inability of the federal government to secure the Texas border as a backdrop, Perry’s representative expresses that the “DREAM” act was an economic response that Texas was forced to make to deal with the border issue.

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