Updated: Thursday, 26 Mar 2009, 6:28 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 26 Mar 2009, 6:28 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) - U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar cosponsored the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was introduced Thursday with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The bill would help young, undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States to earn legal status by obtaining an education and completing national or public service.
The measure would grant conditional legal status to youth who successfully complete high school or equivalent. They then would have six years to graduate from college or a trade school or join the military.
If successful in one of those areas, the conditional legal status would become permanent and they could then move towards U.S. citizenship.
“Approximately 50,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools each year; however, without legal status, it is difficult for them to secure a job or afford to attend college,” Lugar said. “This measure will provide these young people with an incentive to move towards permanent residency while pursuing an education or other worthwhile service.
“Undocumented young people usually arrive with their families and have no understanding of their immigration status. They should be encouraged to complete an education and move toward permanent residency.”
To be eligible, a child must have been under the age of 16 when they entered the country and be physically present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding the date of this measure becoming law; have earned a high school diploma or GED; be a person of good moral character; and not be inadmissible or deportable under criminal or security grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Presently, the law penalizes states that grant a post-secondary benefit, such as in-state tuition, to undocumented students unless the state also provides that same benefit to out-of-state students. This legislation will allow states to grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants.
“If enacted, I would urge Indiana to take advantage of this change in federal law,” Lugar added.
In 2000, Lugar worked with the government of Mexico to establish a diplomatic office in Indianapolis and it has been staffed since 2002.
Lugar was an original cosponsor of the DREAM Act in the previous