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CALIFORNIA ENACTS OWN VERSION OF DREAM ACT

Posted by: Arizona Immigration Lawyers and Attorneys at Alcock & Associates

Many thanks to our immigration intern, Joshua Morris, for his hard work and research on this recently enacted law and its impact on immigration reform on a state and nation-wide level.

California Dream Act

California Assembly Bill No. 130 (“AB 130”) was approved Monday, July 25, 2011. AB 130 allows nonimmigrant aliens, attending the California State University, California Community Colleges, or University of California, to become eligible for scholarships derived from non-state, or private, funds. The legislation requires students to have earned a high school diploma after at least three years attending a California high school.

This law allows illegal alien college students who were previously exempt from receiving financial aid but qualify for in-state tuition, to receive limited financial aid through private scholarships. Illegal alien students would only be eligible to receive private financial aid through AB 130.[1]

An even more ambitious bill, AB 131, would allow illegal alien students to receive public scholarships, but that bill is currently being held in suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 131 would not come out of suspense until August 25, 2001, where it would then be voted on by the California Senate.

New York, New Mexico, Texas, and Maryland are other states to offer tuition breaks to illegal immigrants. Arizona currently bars illegal immigrants from in-state tuition.

Federal DREAM Act

The DREAM Act (‘Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors’) was last introduced to the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2011, as part of the ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011.’ The bill has yet to be granted after several proposals, and would allow children of undocumented immigrants to become citizens after fulfilling numerous requirements.

To qualify for conditional status, an individual must have entered the U.S. when they were under 16 years old (or only as children), lived continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years and graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED; and demonstrate good moral character, by proving no prior crimes making them inadmissible to the country. [2]

Conditional status would be granted to these individuals for six years with additional requirements to be met in order to obtain full legal status. Legal status requires college attendance or U.S. military service for at least 2 years, and yet another passing criminal background check to demonstrate good moral character. If these requirements cannot be met, then the individual will lose legal status and be subject to deportation. [3]

DREAM Act applicants would be responsible for normal USCIS application processing fees. Applicants under the DREAM Act will be covered by normal application fees according to Section 286(m) of Immigration and Nationality Act provisions, and not responsible for any additional fees.[4]

The standard, rigorous criminal background checks and reviews that apply to other aliens seeking lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status would also apply to DREAM Act applicants. All criminal grounds of inadmissibility and removability that apply to other aliens seeking LPR status would also apply to DREAM Act applicants seeking either conditional or unconditional LPR status.[5]

DREAM Act applicants that obtain LPR status under the Act, and then petition on behalf of their relatives would be subject to the same annual caps and waiting periods that normally apply to relative petitioners. This means it could take many years for relatives that entered the country illegally to obtain green cards using a sponsor that has benefited from the DREAM Act.[6]

An alien that adjusts to LPR status under the DREAM Act would not be eligible for federal education grants, such as Pell Grants, but would be eligible for federal student loans, and federal work-study programs.[7]


[1] 2011 CA A.B. 130 (NS)

[2] 2011 CONG US S 1258

[3] Miranda, Luis “Get The Facts On The DREAM Act”, Dec. 1, 2010, www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/01/get-facts-dream-act.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

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2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004