Under the legislation, certain students would be eligible for conditional permanent residency if they meet certain criteria, including: entering the United States before age 16; living in the U.S. for at least five continuous years immediately before the bill becomes effective; graduating from high school or gaining admission into an institute of higher education; having "good moral character" and not committed certain crimes; and being younger than 35 when the bill becomes effective. Students must also demonstrate that they have not been under a final order for deportation. After a six year period of conditional permanent residency, these individuals could apply for citizenship if they had continued to demonstrate "good moral character," continued to live in the U.S., and completed at least two years of higher education or served at least two years in the military.
The DREAM Act has always had strong bipartisan support, and the U.S. Catholic bishops have been long standing supporters of the legislation. Archbishop Jose Gomez, co-adjutor archbishop of Los Angeles and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, recently reaffirmed USCCB support for the legislation, stating that passage of the bill was "the right thing to do."
The DREAM Act would make a difference in the lives of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States by their parents and now, because of their lack of legal status, face obstacles to their future. By removing such barriers, the DREAM Act permits immigrant students to pursue a promising future through college education or military service. Those benefitting from the DREAM Act are talented, intelligent and dedicated young people who know only the U.S. as their home.
More information about the DREAM Act may be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org/learn-issues.html.
As a member of the Justice for Immigrants campaign, the Jesuit Conference will continue to work for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Additionally, the Jesuit Conference and JFI and also engaging in the effort to grow more support in Congress for the DREAM Act. Passage of the DREAM Act could provide the momentum needed to advance immigration reform legislation, but we need lawmakers in Washington, DC to act swiftly on the measure. Indeed, a limited number of weeks remain in the current “lame duck” session as our windows of opportunity to move the DREAM Act, and federal lawmakers will act only if they hear from you.
The DREAM Act could come up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as the week of November 29th. To promote Congressional action on the DREAM Act, we urge you to send this letter to your Senators and Representative and ask them to co-sponsor or publicly support the DREAM Act.
You also can call your Representative or Senators and ask them to support the DREAM Act. For the U.S. Senate: 202-224-3121. For the House of Representatives: 202-225-3121.