DREAM Act changes include tighter regulations

The new version could be sent to the Senate for a test vote next week.

by Taylor Selcke

Revisions to the proposed DREAM Act, introduced Tuesday, would increase regulations on immigrants trying to achieve resident status.

The changes marked a fifth version of the DREAM Act. The legislation, originally filed in 2001, provides a gateway to citizenship for people who entered the United States illegally as a child.

Those who qualify under the act would be granted citizenship to the U.S. after completing at least two years of schooling at a four-year institution or serving two years in the military.

The revisions proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, DFL-Nev. and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, DFL-Ill., would include lowering the age of eligibility, prolonging the amount of time to obtain legal status and preventing immigrant students from getting in-state tuition rates. The revised version of the DREAM Act could be sent to the Senate for a test vote next week.

Passing the act âÄúwould provide hope and raise the aspirations of immigrants,âÄù said Louis Mendoza, the University of Minnesota Vice Provost to the Office for Equity and Diversity.

He described the legislation as a âÄúgame of political football.âÄù

âÄúI think everyone has been concerned about the political risk involved,âÄù with passing the legislation, Mendoza said. âÄúNo one wants to alienate the Latino community.âÄù

Mendoza is a board member for the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, where he advocates for the legislation.

Although the DREAM Act would cover immigrants from around the world, Mendoza said Latinos would see the most impact.

The DREAM Act could also affect diversity at the University.

âÄúWe could potentially see more Latino students applying here,âÄù Mendoza said. âÄúMaintaining our standards of admission would not be compromised in any way. There are some really high-quality students out there.âÄù

For immigrants, a chance at a college degree is crucial, Mendoza said.

âÄúThe fact that they have limited access to higher education is frustrating,âÄù he said. âÄúThey figure they donâÄôt have to take school seriously because they are going to end up in the field of labor anyways.âÄù