US Representative David Rivera, R-Miami, has proposed legislation that would allow undocumented foreign national kids who entered the United States illegally to stay under certain conditions. This bill is known as the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or STARS.
The STARS Act would allow undocumented kids to get a five year nonimmigrant visa if they demonstrate good moral conduct and get admitted to college, provided that they are 19 years old or younger, or 21 years old or younger and have been granted voluntary departure, they arrived in the United States before age 16, and they have maintained residence in the United States for at least the previous five consecutive years. Upon graduation from a four year college, they would have the opportunity to adjust status to permanent residence, and later become US citizens.
This bill was inspired by the story of Daniela Pelaez, who joined Rep. Rivera for Wednesday’s press conference. 18 year old Pelaez is an undocumented immigrant from Columbia and high school valedictorian. She was ordered deported in March, but obtained a three year suspension of deportation after a protest at her school involving 2,500 people. Pelaez and her lawyer, Nera Shefer, have been working with Rivera to draft the bill in order to help other undocumented students get legal US status. Pelaez has been accepted to Dartmouth College, where she plans to attend this fall.
According to Shefer, the STARS Act targets a narrower group of individuals than the DREAM act does and would therefore be more realistic and easier to get enacted.