'Dream Act' a dream deferred for some legal Orlando immigrants - FOX 35 News Orlando

'Dream Act' a dream deferred for some legal Orlando immigrants

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

It's a side of the immigration debate that you probably haven't heard.

There are some immigrants in the United States who are here legally, but who can't figure out how to remain that way, and the "Dream Act" seems to ignore them.

"This is my international visa," said Becca Hamilton, 19. "My I-94, which makes me legal."

Hamilton may not sound like it or even feel like it, but she's an immigrant. Her parents moved to the United States from Scotland seven years ago when Hamilton was 12 years old.

"I've grown up here with the American culture," said Hamilton. "I support American sports teams. I know the National Anthem. I speak with an American accent obviously, so I'm fully assimilated into the culture here and this is the country that I call home."

But after she graduates from Rollins College in two years, a school that gave her a full scholarship, there's a good chance she'll have to return to her parents' homeland.

"I'm being paid to come here to Rollins on a full ride," said Hamilton. "It's kind of absurd to think they're going to spend all this money on me, and then ask me to take my talents somewhere else to some competing nation."

It's all because Hamilton's parents are here on an E2 Treaty Investor visa.

Hamilton, their dependent, would age out of that visa at 21. She was able to secure a student visa to attend college. It'll expire once she graduates, and the Dream Act, won't help her.

"I feel a little left out," said Hamilton.

You've no doubt heard about the bill's focus on allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens. Right now, the Dream Act is a dream deferred for Hamilton.

"First of all, it made me excited when I first heard about the bill," said Hamilton. "And then I read the fine print. And then I saw that you have to be undocumented. It was shattering that I was being excluded for the sole reason my parents did it the right way."

Zoe Adams has been fighting for legal immigrants' rights for six years. She created the website e2VisaReform.org to spread awareness.

Adams is from London.

"She's definitely not alone," said Adams. "I have a son more or less in the same situation. He's at UF (University of Florida)"

She, her husband, and their youngest child, a teenager, are here on an E2 visa.

"Very few options for these children who are dependent on an E2 Treaty investor visa," said Adams. "Really the only option is to get married, to get a job offer."

The children could also start a business of their own. However, the children are not given a tax identification number, so they are not legally allowed to work.

As for Hamilton's parents, they run two small businesses outside of Tampa, and employ Americans. Their visa does not allow them to apply for a green card. They, and Adams estimates, nearly 100,000 others in the same situation must leave the country every few years to renew their visas. There's no limit on the numbers of renewals an E2 visa holder can apply for, but he or she must repeat the process indefinitely.

"In that case the business is often closed or it may be sold," said Adams. "The people who work for that business lose their jobs. That's not good for the American economy."

Both women said they've contacted several lawmakers for help. Hamilton heard from Senator Rubio's office on Wednesday. She will meet with his staff in Orlando on Monday. She's currently circulating an online petition, as well.

The most recent version of the Senate's immigration bill just added a provision addressing those here on "lawful presence" to become citizens. However, the proposal would require them to be in the U.S. for at least 10 years, but three to five years for undocumented immigrants.

We caught up with Florida Senator Marco Rubio at a fundraiser in Lakeland on Wednesday morning. He's a key Republican backer of the new proposal.

"Right now, anyone who has been here, for example, if they've been here 10 years legally they'll be allowed to apply for a green card," said Sen. Rubio, R-FL. " Right now, you're not able to do that. You're not able to go from a non-immigrant visa to a permanent visa, so without leaving the country. Hence, you get all kinds of entrepreneurs and business owners who have to go back and forth."

Hamilton said she appreciates the sentiment, but won't rest until she sees a bill that addresses the needs of legal immigrants on the President's desk.

"It's kind of like setting up this double standard that in my mind is morally wrong to be encouraging the wrong kind of immigration and kind of punishing the right kind of immigration," said Hamilton.

As of Wednesday evening, 600 people signed Hamilton's petition.

To sign Hamilton's online petition, click here.

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