DREAM Act Re-introduced in the Senate

A candlelight vigil for the Dream Act at St Theresa's Church in Manhattan - Photo: Braden Goyette

A candlelight vigil for the Dream Act at St Theresa's Church in Manhattan. (Photo: Braden Goyette)

A day after President Obama gave a speech on immigration, Senators Richard Durbin, Harry Reid, Robert Menendez and 30 others re-introduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that would allow young undocumented people to apply for legal status if they join the military or attend college for two years.

Each year about 65,000 undocumented students who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, often as very young children, graduate from high school and face a bleak future because of their status. Last fall, despite President Obama’s strong support, the DREAM Act passed the House but failed to attract the 60 votes needed to end a Senate filibuster.

Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition welcomed the move, but pointed out that the bill faces a slim chance in the current Congress and said the President should use the authority of his office to protect young undocumented immigrants.

“In the meantime, given the legislative reality, we call on the President to use his executive authority to grant deferred action to young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act—which would allow these young people to come out of the shadows to live and work without the threat of deportation until Congress passes the DREAM Act.”

The Immigration Policy Center released a statement with a similar message.

If Congress fails to act, the Administration can and should take more decisive steps to ensure that the values driving their legislative agenda are reflected in their implementation and interpretation of current law.  DHS should ensure that its officers use their prosecutorial discretion to defer the removal of any eligible student caught up in the broken immigration system.

In his immigration speech on Tuesday in El Paso, even though he called on Congress to pass the DREAM Act, President Obama explicitly said he would not use his executive powers to stop deportations. It’s been 10 years since the bill was first introduced by Sen. Durbin.

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