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DREAM act poised for Senate vote Saturday

The DREAM Act creates a path to US citizenship for young people who were brought into the country illegally while minors. It passed in the House but faces a tougher vote in the Senate.

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Felipe Escobar, dressed as "The Grinch" pretends to steal a "citizenship diploma" from student Devin Heillendinger during a rally to promote the federal DREAM Act, Tuesday Dec. 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Nick Ut/AP

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The fight for the DREAM Act is down to the wire with the House-passed bill scheduled for a Senate vote Saturday.

The bill, which creates a path to US citizenship for young people who were brought into the country illegally while minors, has seen various incarnations since it was first introduced ten years ago.

Under the current version, minors in the United States illegally would be allowed to stay in the country temporarily if they are under the age of 30, have lived in the US continuously for at least five years, and were brought to this country before they were 16 years old.

They also must earn a high school diploma, GED, or college acceptance, and they must undergo various background checks. They would then be able to gain permanent resident status – and apply for citizenship – after 10 years and after completing two years of college or military service.

Advocates and opponents paint a very different picture of the DREAM Act, whose full title is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.

β€œThe DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that conservatives can love,” says Rich Nathan, Pastor of the Vineyard Church of Columbus in Ohio, during a conference call with faith leaders who support the bill. Why? Because it grants people an opportunity to serve the country through military service or education, he says, and because only those who have shown good moral character are eligible.

Support from educators

Educators are for it as well, including at least 29 higher-education associations and the presidents and chancellors at more than 73 colleges and universities. Nearly 400 university professors who study immigration have signed a statement endorsing the act.

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