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The nightmare continues: Senate kills the DREAM Act

By Atty. Daniel Hanlon

In a most disappointing turn of events, on Saturday, December 18, 2010 the Senate voted 55-41 to consider the DREAM Act, but fell five votes short of the 60 votes required to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. On December 8, 2010, the DREAM Act had passed in the House of Representatives, by a vote of 216-198. Among those voting in favor of the bill were 8 Republican Representatives. In the Senate, the vote was doomed with 5 Democractic Senators voting against the measure.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (“DREAM ACT”) was first introduced in 2001 and reincarnated in 2003, proposing to create an avenue of relief for deserving children who have been raised in the US and managed to attain a high school diploma allowing them to realize their own dreams of attending college or joining the military and becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States.

Originally introduced as S.1291 in 2001 by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) will reverse a harmful provision of 1996’s IIRAIRA that denies States the right to determine who qualifies for in-state tuition.  As most students and parents are aware, out of state tuition can render the college experience at State schools as expensive as tuition at some of Nation’s most exclusive private Universities. The DREAM Act will give States the authority to make such determinations.

Most importantly, DREAM will create a mechanism through which young people who meet certain criteria, including having good moral character and having lived in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the Act’s passage, may apply to “adjust status” or become lawful permanent residents of the United States.

Senator Harry Reid(D-NV) has long championed the DREAM ACT, and recently attempted to include it in the Defense authorization bill, as enactment of the bill into law would improve the nation’s military preparedness. Moreover, research has shown that providing legal status for people who have striven for and achieved success in the US would contribute to improving the economic conditions in the US as well. With High School graduation as a an incentive to attaining legal status in the US, fewer foreign born children would drop out of school than in the past, where lack of legal status imposed an enormous barrier to admission and obtaining student loans for college. Promoters of this long-overdue bill had hoped that members of Congress would be swayed by the cases of many minor aliens who had come to the US at tender ages with their parents or other adults, without any choice in the matter, and had performed well in school, but had no chance to ever adjust their status or attend college.

Saturday marked a major setback for the DREAM Act or any meaningful immigration reform in the near term. President Obama remarked, “The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness, and law enforcement efforts. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.” With the composition of Congress about to shift even more heavily in the Republicans favor, it seems that the incoming Congress will find even less reason to pass the DREAM ACT in 2011

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Daniel P. Hanlon has been practicing Immigration and Nationality Law exclusively since his admission to the California State Bar in 1993. Mr. Hanlon is the founder of Hanlon Law Group, a P.C. He has argued many important immigration appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and successfully challenged INS rulings in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Mr. Hanlon’s experience spans several years, and covers a broad range of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions, including those for working professionals, multi-national managers, treaty-traders, investors, athletes and entertainers. Mr. Hanlon also has vast experience in all family-based Petitions and in labor certification applications under both Department of Labor-supervised recruitment and Reduction in Recruitment methods.
Over the past several years, Mr. Hanlon has tried thousands of cases in Immigration Court involving Requests for Asylum in the United States, Cancellation of Removal, and Waivers of Grounds of Removability.

Mr. Hanlon graduated “With Distinction” from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in April 1988, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. In May 1993, Mr. Hanlon graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, of which he sits on the Investors Committee. Mr. Hanlon has also appeared as a speaker before the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Immigration Section, on the 1996 immigration law amendments. Hanlon Law Group, P.C. is headquartered at 225 S. Lake Avenue, Suite 1100, Pasadena, CA 91101, tel: (626) 585-8005, fax: (626) 585-8595, website: www.hanlonlawgroup.com, email: visas@hanlonlawgroup.com.

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