Luis Herrera's parents brought him to the United States 10 years ago on a tourist
visa that has now expired. He'd like to go to the University of Arizona but the
20-year old community college student can't qualify for in-state tuition or financial
aid because he's an illegal resident.
"I consider myself an American,"
Herrera told the Tucson Citizen. "This is my country; most of my life I've
been living here."
If a proposed bill becomes law, Herrera's situation,
and that of thousands of other illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children,
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would
allow some illegal immigrants the chance to gain legal residence and become eligible
for in-state college tuition.
The Development, Relief, and Education for
Alien Minors Act or DREAM
Act is controversial because opponents say that it rewards illegal behavior.
Supporters argue it provides educational opportunities for children who did not
choose to enter the U.S. illegally.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R - Utah) and
Richard Durbin (D - Illinois) sponsored the DREAM Act. It now moves to the full
Senate for a vote. President Bush has indicated that he would sign the legislation
Under the legislation, illegal immigrants could apply for legal
residency if they have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and entered the
country before age 16, have completed two years of military service or two years
of college within six years of high school graduation, and have a clean criminal
The bill's supporters say it provides educational opportunities
to a vulnerable community. "They did not make the initial decision to enter
the United States illegally," said sponsor Hatch. "We have a choice
to either keep these talented young people underground or give them a chance to
contribute to the United States."
But opponents of the bill say that
the bill is being used as a political tool to appeal to immigrant voters. They
also fear it would encourage more families to enter the country illegally.
"This bill is a crass political calculation aimed at selling amnesty disguised
as an educational initiative," said Dan Stein, executive director of the
Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that would like to see stricter
What do you think? Should the U.S. grant
amnesty to illegal immigrants brought to this country as children and allow them
to pay in-state tuition at public universities? Why or why not? Send your opinions
to NewsHour Extra at firstname.lastname@example.org