WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Bills narrowly focused to provide undocumented students a chance to gain U.S. citizenship were introduced Wednesday in the House and Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., joined 30 other senators to introduce the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, which would allow undocumented students the opportunity to gain legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing, Durbin said in a release.
"Our immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from fully contributing to our nation's future," Durbin said. "These young people have lived in this country for most of their lives. It is the only home they know. They are American in every sense except their technical legal status."
Considered a critical step to reforming the country's immigration system, the DREAM Act would provide children a path to citizenship provided they "stay in school and out of trouble," go to college or enlist in the military, Reid said.
"Allowing these students to become productive citizens is not only good for them -- it makes economic sense, would reduce our deficit by $2.2 billion in a decade and would strengthen our military and national security," Reid said.
Reid said he would schedule a vote on the legislation, but declined to say when, The Hill reported.
He urged lawmakers to support the bill.
"Instead of kicking out of our country people who are educated," Reid said, "we should let them work."
Durbin's office said a similar bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Howard Berman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both D-Calif., and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.