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Member Advisory--May 21, 2007

 U.S. Senate includes DREAM Act in Draft Comprehensive Immigration Bill

A special negotiation team in the Senate put the final touches on a draft version of the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007" on Thursday, May 17. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been included in this Senate draft bill that took over two months of bipartisan deliberations to craft.

Students who qualify for the DREAM Act provisions, "persons who entered the country as children, graduated from high school and enrolled in college or the military," would be eligible for a "Z visa" program placing them on a path for citizenship. Applicants for a Z visa would have to meet other legalization requirements, including having a job or being enrolled in school and having a clean background check, in order to be eligible for a green card within three years. Only students who entered the country before January 1, 2007, would be eligible for the program.

The Senate draft bill is expected to be sent either to the Judiciary Committee or directly to the floor for immediate action by an up or down vote. To be sent directly to the Senate floor for action will require 60 Senators to approve this procedure. A vote to limit debate on the bill ("cloture") in order to send it to the Senate floor is anticipated later today.

If 60 Senators do not approve of this process, the bill can still be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further deliberations before a committee vote, after which it can be sent to the Senate floor for further action.

HACU remains optimistic that the Senate can agree on a just and equitable immigration reform bill that will benefit both the nation and all immigrants. While the Senate draft is clearly a compromise bill with which no one is completely happy, Senate and White House leadership have expressed the view that it is both an improvement over current legislation and a compromise that can be passed.

The House has yet to begin discussion on an immigration bill this session but the House Speaker has expressed optimism about passing immigration legislation before the Congressional August recess.

HACU will keep you informed of further Congressional action on this crucial legislation.

HACU Member Advisories are a service
of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.