Group wants to help young illegal immigrants in the US

Supporters of a proposed law that would benefit people who arrived in the United States illegally as children said 17 July that it would help more immigrants go on to get college degrees and contribute more to society.

During a meeting of the national Hispanic civil-rights group, people spoke out in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The proposal is known as the DREAM Act. It would give undocumented youth the chance to become legal U.S. residents and possibly help them get college tuition.

The proposal has failed in the US Congress in two previous sessions and has not been introduced in the current session. It would provide a conditional six-year legal status for immigrants who arrived before the age of 16 and have lived in the United States for at least five years.

To qualify, the immigrants must have gotten high school diplomas in the United States and be of good moral character. Those who have completed two years of college or served two years in the U.S. army by the end of that six-year period would qualify as lawful permanent residents of the United States.

Critics of the act say it would reward illegal behavior.