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Question: Ever since 1996 when the immigration laws changed to make it much more difficult for immigrants to come to the United States and to stay in the United States, many of my friends have been deported, and many more have had no hope of staying here legally in the United States. Is there any hope that any new laws might change this?

Answer: Actually, you are not alone. There are many people in Congress who have submitted bills which would allow people who have suffered from the 1996 laws and who are currently suffering to fall under new provisions of law to help them. While none of the following bills are actually law as of the present, they are at least on the table. This means that the anti-immigrant movement shown in the 1996 laws is showing Congress that it is harsh, unfair and a burden to families trying to meet the American dream. Here are some of the bills proposed in Congress right now:

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2003: Introduced on July 31 by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), S. 1545 would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to again permit states to determine residency for in-state tuition purposes. The DREAM Act also would grant conditional permanent resident status to young people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, have good moral character, have lived in the U.S. at least five years at the time of enactment, and have graduated from high school.

The Family Reunification Act of 2003: Introduced on June 24 by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), H.R. 2585 would amend the INA to permit certain long-term permanent residents to seek cancellation of removal.

The Student Adjustment Act of 2003: Introduced on April 9 by Representatives Chris Cannon (R-UT), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), H.R. 1684 would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit states to determine state residency for in-state tuition purposes and would also provide for the adjustment of status of certain undocumented college-bound students.

The Central American Security Act: Introduced on March 17 by Representative Tom Davis (R-VA), H.R. 1300 would amend § 202 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to make certain Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans eligible for relief under this section, and would give those individuals with applications for relief currently pending under § 203 the option of having their applications considered as applications for adjustment under § 202.

The Unity, Security, Accountability, and Family (USA Family) Act: Introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) on January 29, H.R. 440 would: provide legal permanent residence to immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for 5 years or more; grant conditional legal status and work authorization to all law-abiding immigrants living in the U.S. for less than 5 years; repeal the 3- and 10-year bars to admissibility and the provisions that render aliens removable from the U.S. for having committed certain minor nonviolent offenses; and create an improved system of accountability that allows critical resources and manpower to be redirected to fight the war on terror.

The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) established a nonimmigrant category within the immigration law that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant category. The admission allows the spouse or child to complete processing for permanent residence while in the United States. It also allows those admitted in the new category to have permission for employment while they wait processing of their case to permanent resident status.

Question: Are any of these items law yet?

Answer: Not yet. However, these are only a few of the bills in Congress at this time. However, we should write our representatives in Congress, and show our support for these bills. Hopefully, they will pass in the near future.

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We Have Hope Yet!