The DREAM Act is back

The DREAM Act, the carrot constantly being dangled in front of the immigrant’s rights movement, is back in the House and Senate. As you may remember, it was heart-wrenchingly defeated by only five Senate votes at the end of the last session, a huge loss for the movement that has been pushing this legislation for over a decade.

Today, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced the reintroduction of the DREAM Act in the 112th Congress, and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) plan to introduce a similar bill in the House later this afternoon. The DREAM Act, which would give hardworking immigrant youth the opportunity to earn their legal status through higher education or military service, was originally introduced in 2001, and has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and from leaders in the business, religious, and civil rights communities. Today’s announcements reflect that leaders on both sides of the aisle agree: The DREAM Act is commonsense legislation whose time has come.

The political possibilities for the bill are limited though, with Republican leadership in the House unlikely to endorse the bill (as we’ve learned, if it’s not about reducing access to abortion, they are not interested). This bill has historically had bipartisan support (note bipartisan cosponsors in the House), but bipartisanship is a rarity in the current political climate and likely to be scarce in the running up to the 2012 election.

Despite all this, it is a bill that deserves to see the fight move forward. State-level versions of the DREAM Act have been making progress, which is where many are focusing their energy. Maryland’s Governor just signed their version of the act, a big victory for advocates.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted May 13, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The dream act has been changed so much from the original plan that I think it might be unwise to pass it as is. For one thing, it eliminated the possibility of a student to perform community service hours to become a citizen, replacing it with military service where they are considered expendable and put on the frontlines in disproportionate numbers to their citizen peers.

  2. Posted May 13, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    It also has changed to allow citizenship only to the most high performing students in american schools. Which means if you don’t ace european history, english, and the US version of Manifest Destiny, you aren’t considered for citizenship. That rules out A LOT of non-citizen american youth.

  3. Posted May 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Do you go for half-measures or hold out for full citizenship? And do we cobble together these table scraps, hoping with time they’ll measure up our expectations? Progress is often inelegant.

  4. Posted May 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    My heart skipped a beat when I read military service as a chance at citizenship. What an exploitive way to boost enrollment.

    We need to support immigrant youth and our troops while protesting the war machine that America runs. Innocent people are dying by the millions.

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