Congressman Howard Berman (for himself, Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, Ms. Roybal-Allard, and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) introduced the “American Dream Act” (Bill H.R.1275) on March 1, 2007 in the House of Representatives to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain aliens students who are who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes. A companion measure was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Durbin (for himself, Mr. Hagel, and Mr. Lugar).

Under the American Dream Act, qualified students would be eligible for temporary legal immigration status upon high school graduation that would lead to permanent legal residency if they go to college or serve in the military. The American Dream Act would also eliminate a federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state college tuition to immigrant students who have long resided in their states. Despite meeting state residency requirements, immigrant students in certain states are charged out-of-state or international tuition rates, which can be triple the cost of in-state tuition.

The relevant provisions of the bill, which maybe of interest to our readers, are reproduced hereunder:

Cancellation Of Removal And Adjustment Of Status Of Certain Long-Term Residents Who Entered The United States As Children

The Secretary of Homeland Security may cancel removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States, if the alien demonstrates that:

(i) the alien has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the date of enactment of this Act, and had not yet reached the age of 16 years at the time of initial entry;

(ii) the alien has been a person of good moral character since the time of application;

(iii) the alien is not inadmissible or deportable under certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA);

(iv) the alien, at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education in the United States, or has earned a high school diploma or obtained a general education development certificate in the United States.

The Secretary of Homeland Security may waive the grounds of ineligibility and the grounds of deportability if the Secretary determines that the alien’s removal would result in extreme hardship to the alien, the alien’s child, or (in the case of an alien who is a child) to the alien’s parent.

Treatment of Certain Breaks in Presence: An alien shall not be considered to have failed to maintain continuous physical presence in the United States by virtue of brief, casual, and innocent absence