DREAM Act Supporters Try Again: Pro-Immigrant Students Bill Introduced In House And Senate

In a preview of the immigration debate, Congress is getting ready to consider a bill that would provide a path to citizenship to undocumented students who graduate from college, a trade school or join the military.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House last Thursday, in the latest incarnation of an initiative that has failed to pass several times since 2003.

According to a press release from the office of Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.),

The measure would grant conditional legal status to youth who successfully complete high school or equivalent. They then would have six years to graduate from college or a trade school or join the military. If successful in one of those areas, the conditional legal status would become permanent and they could then move towards U.S. citizenship.

“Approximately 50,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools each year; however, without legal status, it is difficult for them to secure a job or afford to attend college,” Lugar said. “This measure will provide these young people with an incentive to move towards permanent residency while pursuing an education or other worthwhile service.

“Undocumented young people usually arrive with their families and have no understanding of their immigration status. They should be encouraged to complete an education and move toward permanent residency.”
To be eligible, youngsters must have entered the U.S. before they were 16 and have spent five years in the country before the date of the bill’s becoming law. They need to “have earned a high school diploma or GED, be a person of good moral character; and not be inadmissible or deportable under criminal or security grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

The bill has at least some bipartisan support: it was introduced by Lugar and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois in the Senate, and by Representatives Howard Berman (D.-Calif.) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R.-Fla.) in the House.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “versions of the DREAM Act have been considered, without much success, in 2003, 2005, 2006 and as part of a large immigration reform package in 2007.”

As we have reported in the past, immigrant students and other Dream Act supporters hope the bill will pass this time — and they count on an important ally in the White House: President Barack Obama, who expressed support for it during the presidential campaign.

Activists are conducting several campaigns to support passage of the bill. The blog Citizen Orange lists the following:

– The National Council of La Raza is encouraging people to call their Congressional representatives.

– America’s Voice asks people to fax their representatives.

– Change.org is asking for emails to Congress.

– And those interested can also text “Justice”, or “Justicia” for Spanish, to 69866 to be the first to know when the DREAM Act is introduced, courtesy of FIRM.

Information is also available at Dream Act 2009.

While pro-immigrant activists welcomed the news of the bill’s introduction, the immigration-restrictionist camp is getting ready to oppose it.

“The shamnesty crowd is ready to roll again,” conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin wrote. “The illegal alien college tuition discount bill … has been reintroduced.”

16 comments

  1. jun bolayog

    An immigration bill that will encourage conservatives to come aboard should include vigorous enforcement at the borders and strict visa processing abroad. Illegal border crossers will be apprehended immediately and can be deported the next day with very little legal hassles. Because they are caught in the act so to speak. Once an immigrant intending to stay illegally in the US has entered the country and blended into the population, the situation will change dramatically. By then, you can’t just go around picking up people you suspect to be undocumented. You will have to go through proper police surveillance and the legal proceedings. Undocumented immigrants residing in the US for a long time should be given a chance to legalize, pay a fine, pay taxes and join the labor union. It is good for America. In the meantime, guard the borders vigorously.

  2. John M. Burton

    I hope congress understands that children are not to be punished for their parents decisions and that education should be a top priority in this country. The Dream act is not about rewarding people for breaking immigration laws, but about giving a chance to those who came to this country as young children who had no choice but to follow their parents. These children who have grown in this country are not asking for anything but a chance to pursuit happiness, through service and education. I would understand if congress decides to punish corporations and farmers who use illegal immigrants to increase their profitability. I would understand if congress decided to increase security at the borders but I will never admit that innocent children be disenfranchised because of political games between conservatives and liberals.

  3. eckernet

    It’s amnesty for illegal aliens, pure and simple. No other way you can frame it without playing semantic games and/or spin heart-rending tales of woe.

  4. American

    We gotta give these kids the equality of opportunity they deserve. As a country, we have invested in their pre-University educations, why not let them continue to serve our country by joining the military or by getting a degree and becoming professionals? Ultimately, the DREAM Act is not a freebie, they’re gonna have to work to get it, I hope it passes this year.

  5. Concerned

    eckernet, please realize that these kids had no say in the decision to be brought to the United States. They should not be punished if they want to study and/or join the military.

  6. SUPPORTER OF DREAM ACT

    I hope that the Dream Act passes this year. These kids should get the opportunity to fully participate in the American Dream.It’s not their fault for being here unlawfully.

  7. lfarknagel

    Obama was fond of saying “Si se puede!” Lets see if he really meant it. Class distinctions are bad for everyone.

  8. Efren

    Why are we so different from everyone else. We just want to have big deams like everyone else. We want a chance. We want to be someone, make something of ourselves. Everything we want is to make our lifes better!!!!!!!

  9. mellifluousjazz

    Now that I’m almost graduating, I sometimes wonder when I’ll be able to move like everyone else. Not having the legality to work or drive here makes me feel like I’m useless. I would take the risk to drive a car for mobility without a license, but my conscience tells me it’s a against the law, and I wouldn’t want to risk it. I would want to help my parents by working, but how can I do it without the legal papers. There are so many things I want to do with my life here in America, but so far, it still feels like an impasse. I hope that this bill will be passed, and also the bill that President Obama mentioned that allows immigrants to petition for legal status as long as they don’t disobey the law and pay fines. A lot of people here in America are given the opportunity to have a better life, but some don’t take advantage of it. While us, the immigrants, who work so hard but still belongs in the bottom can’t improve our statuses because we’re not given the same opportunity. I hope the Congress, and the Senate understands that. I hope America understands that.

  10. Araceli Carrillo

    IM A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE. WHAT’S NEXT? I CAN’T GET A JOB BECAUSE IM ILLEGAL. I THINK IT’S SO UNFAIR ON HOW WE ARE TREATED, I DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE BORN OUT OF THE USA. I BEEN LIVING IN ARIZONA SINCE I WAS 8 MONTHS I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW MY HOMETOWN LOOKS LIKE HOW MY CULTURE IS REALLY LIKE. I DON’T HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES AS EVERYBODY ELSE. I CAN’T EVEN GO AND GET A REGULAR STATE ID, WHY, BECAUSE IM CONSIDERED AN ”ALIEN” AND DON’T DESERVE TO HAVE ONE.I CAN’T EVEN DRIVE FOR THE SAME REASON. DON’T PEOPLE KNOW WE ARE ALL THE SAME JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE WE ALSO NEED TO DRIVE HERE AND THERE. IM THE ONLY ONE BESIDES DAD THAT CAN DRIVE. I HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL, BABY DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS, STORE, EVERYTHING, HOW AM I SUPPOSE TO DO IT WITHOUT BEING AFRAID OF GETTING PULLED OVER AND GETTING THE LITTLE BIT MY DAD GIVES ME TAKEN AWAY. IM A SINGLE MOTHER. I DON’T HAVE A JOB I LIVE WITH MY PARENTS. I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER TO MY BABY. I WISH I JUST HAD ONE CHANCE. I CAN EVENTUALLY GO TO COLLEGE. HOW DO I PAY FOR IT THOUGH YESTERDAY WAS THE LAST DAY I HAD TO PAY FOR TUITION, I WASN’T ABLE TO GET THE MONEY, WHAT DO I DO NOW? I APPLIED TO SO MANY SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS THROUGHOUT HIGH SCHOOL NEVER GOT NOTHING. IM DEPRESSED, STRESSED, AND EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF. I NEED HELP. I HOPE THAT BILL BECOMES LAW IT WOULD NOT JUST HELP ME BUT ALL OF US. AND DESPITE ALL THESE OBSTACLES I HAVE IM GOING TO GO TO SCHOOL, GRADUATE, AND IF AT THE END IM UNABLE TO DO WHAT I WANT TO BE, AT LEAST I’LL HAVE A PROUD FAMILY OF ME. I AM PART OF THIS COUNTRY AND WISH TO BE TREATED THE SAME…

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