Tag: Dream Act


News Analysis: Obama Launches Immigration Reform Effort, But Lines Are Already Being Drawn

By Suman Raghunathan, FI2W consultant
President Obama at Thursday's meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform - Photo: The White House.

President Obama at Thursday's meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform. (Photo: The White House)

Finally, the much-expected meeting on immigration reform between President Barack Obama and lawmakers from both parties took place Thursday. Participating legislators said the president promised to put his energy into moving forward right away.  The response from some reform advocates was “Game On!”  But the various sides have already started drawing lines in the sand — spelling out what they will and will not accept.

Reps. Anthony Weiner (D.-N.Y.) and Joseph Crowley (D.-N.Y.) reported that President Obama began the meeting by promising to “use whatever political capital he has left” to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year.

See a White House video of the meeting:

Thursday’s meeting and the White House’s creation of a working group on immigration reform –to be headed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano– were lauded by immigrant rights groups such as America’s Voice, which called Thursday “a turning point” and declared: “Game On”.

The renewed commitment from the Oval Office might allay advocates’ fears that the current economic crisis, as well as Obama’s high-profile efforts to enact health care reform would prevent the President and Congress from dealing with immigration this year.


Obama Brings Hope But Little Change to Immigrants in Arizona

By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor

PHOENIX, Arizona  — President Barack Obama arrives here today to speak at a commencement ceremony at Arizona State University in Tempe before an audience expected to number 71,000 people. Should the president have some time to look around during his visit he’ll find himself at ground zero of the immigration debate.

Sheriffs Supression

Despite shifts in federal immigration policies by the Obama administration, a crackdown on undocumented immigrants continues in Arizona. Photo/A.J. Alexander

A border state, Arizona has become the center of a crackdown on illegal immigration spearheaded by state elected officials and local law enforcement agencies geared towards the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

“First and foremost (the president) will see the great division that the issue (of immigration) has caused in Arizona and the hate that has been created because of it,” said Daniel Ortega, a civil litigation attorney and Hispanic activist. “He’ll see a population that is frustrated on both sides by the lack of the federal government’s ability to move forward.” (more…)

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.”

Immigrant Students, DREAM Act Supporters Hoping Obama Will Take Up Their Cause

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

As the much-anticipated presidential inauguration of Barack Obama approaches, one group of immigrant activists in particular is feverishly pushing for their cause to be heard by the incoming president. They are young undocumented immigrant students who grew up in the U.S. and their supporters, who are hoping that the new administration will push for passage of the DREAM Act, a law that would allow the students to become U.S. citizens provided they meet certain conditions.

Undocumented students, hoping to come out of the shadows.

Hoping to come out of the shadows. (Video capture: ADreamDeferred.org)

Their cause got an extra bit of support through an online contest organized by Change.org, a social action network (not to be confused with the president-elect’s website Change.gov.)

For the last few weeks, the site hosted an online vote to select “the best ten ideas for change,” which will be announced today at an event at the National Press Club.

The contest was born as a response to Obama’s call to Americans to get involved in their government. “We started the Ideas for Change in America initiative in the hope that we could translate the energy behind the Obama election into a citizen-led movement for change around the major issues we face,” the organizers said.

Thousands of ideas were submitted and over 600,000 votes were cast. Activists for causes as varied as marijuana legalization, gay marriage, and green energy mobilized to make their voices heard and to gather votes for their ideas. As of 5pm EST Thursday, when the vote closed, passage of the DREAM Act stood in eighth place, making it one of the ten winners. (Marijuana legalization was first.)