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MIX:Dreams of children of immigrants

IN THE

October 22, 2007|By ALICIA LOPEZ

When that pointless immigration bill was being bandied about in the news and Congress it included at least one gem that gave it some merit.

That gem is the federal DREAM Act. It is one of the least controversial issues concerning immigration — of course that’s not saying much.

The DREAM Act is designed to help youths who are not citizens but came to America before they turned 16 and at least five years before the bill is enacted. In order to qualify for the benefits of the DREAM Act, the youngster must follow a few rules designed to encourage them to be assets to society.

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They would qualify for conditional permanent resident status when they are accepted to college, graduate from high school or earn a GED.

They would not qualify if they had committed crimes, or, vaguely enough, were a security risk or “inadmissible on certain other grounds.”

The conditional permanent resident status would last for six years. During that time they must maintain good moral character, avoid lengthy trips abroad and do one of the following: graduate from a two-year or vocational college or study at least two years toward a higher degree; serve in the military for at least two years; or perform at least 910 hours of volunteer community service.

So instead of having a limited future based on a decision to immigrate that wasn’t their own, they can have a real future based on their hard work and continued responsibility.

These are people who were raised in this country and have friends and contacts here.

I was surprised with a different viewpoint of the act when I was talking to OCC student Fernando Hernandez about the issue.

Hernandez’s family gained citizenship the hard way, through paperwork.

Well, his dad had it a bit easier: He received amnesty. After that he applied for citizenship for his family. It took 15 years and plenty of lawyers and paperwork, but they have their citizenship now.

Partly because of his experience and partly because he considers the treatment of immigrants to be a humanitarian issue, the 22-year-old said he supports the DREAM Act but question’s the author’s motivation because one of the paths to citizenship is to join the military.

“It’s just a way to increase the ranks in the military,” he said.

The option to do volunteer work might alleviate some of that concern.

Ultimately Hernandez agrees that the act is positive for the community.

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