Undocumented students will get another shot at staying in the country: The DREAM Act has been reintroduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives today, as President Obama turns up the heat on efforts at comprehensive immigration reform ahead of the 2012 election.
“This legislation will allow our nation to maintain competitiveness in the global economy by enabling students who have been raised here and who seek to be a part of a highly educated workforce the opportunity to pursue the American Dream,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, the National Council of La Raza’s Director of Immigration and National Campaigns. “We continue to hear from many young people who are eager to give back to our country and who join us in calling on Congress to pass the ‘DREAM Act.’”
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and California Rep. Howard Berman (a staunch supported who has introduced the DREAM Act every year since 2001) put forth the bills. "We're not giving up," Durbin told reporters. "This is not just a piece of legislation, it is a matter of justice."
In December, the bill passed in a largely Democratic House during the lame duck session following the midterm elections but failed in the Senate when Republicans and some Democrats voted against it. Now, with Republicans holding a majority in the House, faces an even more uphill a battle than it did in December.
“I believe there are people of good will on the Republican side of the aisle, especially some who in the past have been advocates for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, will join with us,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. “This is not a contest between people who are Democrats and Republicans, even though that’s how it’s played out recently because Republicans simply are not willing to step forward and help.”
The DREAM Act would allow kids brought to the United States before age 16 but are still under 30 at the bill’s passing a path to citizenship if they agree to attend college or join the military.
The bill’s reintroduction comes during a week in which President Obama has stepped up a push for comprehensive immigration reform. In a speech in El Paso Tuesday, underlining the need for Congress to act and for immigration advocates to press them to do so—a direct response to criticism from some Latino leaders and Democrats who feel he should use his executive powers to initiate reform. Obama also vocalized his support of the passage of the DREAM Act and called immigration reform an issue of economic importance—a concept supported by such business leaders as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
“I applaud President Obama for clearly defining immigration reform as a priority for the future of America,” says Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio. “It is time for policy to take precedence over politics. Securing our borders and securing our economic future with a 21st century workforce are not mutually exclusive goals.”