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Extending the American Dream to Immigrants

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on July 19, 2010

As students graduate from school this year, some are facing an incredibly difficult job market that seems to make the American Dream unattainable. But others, such as the sons and daughters of undocumented workers, are facing a greater challenge – the prospect of arrest and the nightmare of deportation, resulting in a long term bar to their legal return to the U.S.

That is why Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and other co-sponsors of the Development, Relief and Education for Minors Act (the “DREAM Act”) are pushing for a legislative solution to a dilemma facing hundreds of thousands of graduating students.

Under current law, alien minors residing in the U.S. can only obtain permanent legal status through their parents. If the parents of these children have failed to seek or obtain legal status, then the children risk getting a quick ticket out of the country when they are asked for a variety of reasons to show identification to employers or law enforcement authorities.

The DREAM Act would grant conditional legal status to young undocumented immigrants and would give them a path to permanent legal residence. The conditional status would apply to young beneficiaries for six years, and would allow them to apply for permanent resident status if they graduate from a two-year community college or complete a four-year degree program or serve for two years in the U.S. military during that six-year provisional period.

Proponents of the Act say that this legislation would provide a means of retaining bright and productive residents while giving hope to young children of undocumented workers.

Under the Act, as currently constituted, beneficiaries would have to demonstrate:

  • Proof of having arrived in the U.S. before age 16;
  • Proof of residence in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years since their date of arrival;
  • Proof that their age is between 12 and 35 years at the time of enactment;
  • Proof of graduation from an American high school or attainment of a Graduate Equivalent Degree.
  • Proof of “good moral character.”

The proposed legislation has inspired the creation of social networking sites and blogs, such as “DREAMers for Positive Change” and

Given the public pressure on Washington for immigration reform, this new pathway to legalization could become a reality some time this year, and our office will be prepared to facilitate applications for conditional or permanent residency at that time.

For more information about our immigration practice representing individuals and families seeking legal status, please visit our website or call our office at (847) 564-0712.