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Young undocumented Pinoys in US get sliver of hope

- Jose Katigbak () - December 10, 2010 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Scores of young, undocumented Filipinos received a sliver of hope on Wednesday when the US House of Representatives passed a measure that offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as minors.

Voting mostly on partisan lines, the House by a 216-198 margin approved the DREAM act that by some estimates could make as many as 2 million of about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country eligible to become permanent residents, so-called “green card” holders.

The Senate still has to pass its own version of the bill, but many analysts consider this to be a long shot because of stiffer opposition from Republicans who consider the measure to be an amnesty.

Known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, the measure offers a way for these overstaying immigrants who sign up for college or military service to become permanent residents.

To be eligible they must have been brought to the United States before the age of 16, lived in the country for at least five years and graduated from high school.

Immigrant-rights advocates have long advocated that the children of those who have entered the United States illegally shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their parents.

The DREAM Act is important because there are hundreds of Filipino students who may be deported unless this bill passes, said the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

President Barack Obama lauded the House for passing the bill and urged the Senate to do likewise so he can sign it into law as soon as possible.

“This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America,” he said.

The military supports the measure because it will create a new pool of recruits.

“The legislation should be a no-brainer,” The Washington Post said in a recent editorial.

“Each year it would give an estimated 65,000 high school graduates who were brought to this country as children – Americans in every sense but for their lack of documentation – the chance to fulfill their potential in the only country many of them think of as home,” the Post said.

ALIEN MINORS COUNTRY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEASURE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILIPINO AMERICAN ASSOCIATIONS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA RELIEF AND EDUCATION UNITED STATES UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASHINGTON POST
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