Pelosi, Reid to Push DREAM Act in Lame Duck

Written by on November 12, 2010 in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Reform, Undocumented Immigration with 7 Comments

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), nearing the end of his reelection campaign last month, told Univision’s Jorge Ramos that, win or lose, he would bring up the DREAM Act during lame duck session. This week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi threw her support behind Sen. Reid, also advocating for a DREAM vote during lame duck. The DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would provide legal status to young people who graduate from high school and pursue college or military service, failed to reach a vote this September after Senate Republicans blocked the Defense Authorization Act, the bill which carried the DREAM Act as an amendment. Now many immigration advocates are looking down the legislative road and say bringing DREAM to a vote during lame duck—when Democrats still have the House and Senate—is the bill’s best chance of becoming law.

According to the Arizona Republic:

If Reid can nudge the Dream Act through the Senate while Democrats are still in charge of the House, the bill has a real chance to become law, advocates say.

But it will be a tough fight, underscoring just how difficult it will be in the new Congress to reach consensus on the bigger, more complicated issue of reforming an immigration system that both sides say is broken.

Predictions for the 112th Congressional legislative agenda look as grim for immigration as they do for a lot of pressing issues. With Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) the likely Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at the helm of the Subcommittee on Immigration, there’s likely little room for any real movement on immigration save a ‘round-the-clock immigration enforcement parade—that is, unless Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH) steps in.

The unfortunate irony is that the DREAM Act has long enjoyed bipartisan support, just not the Congressional courage to get it done. First introduced in 2001 by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate, the DREAM Act addresses the plight of young undocumented immigrants who, brought to the U.S. at a young age, grew up here, wish to go to college and obtain lawful employment. Although the DREAM Act has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee four times—and the Senate in 2006 as part of a larger immigration bill—it has never passed the House. Today, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is the lead co-sponsor with Senator Durbin (D-IL).

So what are we really waiting for? Clearly these DREAM Act kids—who, mind you, never had a choice in coming here, have managed to stay out of trouble and continue to excel in school—deserve better. The public thinks so, too. For the politicians constantly looking over their shoulder to see where the voters are, the evidence is pretty clear: this is one area of immigration law that almost everyone supports. And by helping these students, America helps itself, bringing more talent and energy into the legal workforce.

At this point, Democrats have little if anything to lose by bringing the DREAM Act to a vote during lame duck and Republicans, looking ahead to 2012, have plenty to gain.

Photo by Public Citizen.

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  1. tany says:

    They are not asking for a hand out they are asking to be American like you. How could you say no to some one that is willing to make a difference that is willing to work hard for their dream? Do you really thing saying no to these people is the right thing. Knowing that they were brought here and raise here as Americans to later find out that they can’t live there dream.

  2. bob franklin says:

    My hope is that the dream act can become reality and prove to be a dynamic vehicle in delivering a real opportunity to a generation of youngsters in the spirit that symbolises the very best of American values.

    In addition I continue to campaign for the act to include alongside illegals, non-residents. Sadly 50,000 qualifying young people are not able to benefit from the good intentions of this act even though they meet the criteria except for one element.Children of E2 holders are raised both culturally and educationally as Americans,but of course they are here under their parents E2 visa which has non-resident status with no pathway to L.P.R. I believe they too deserve the opportunity to develop their careers and lives in the country that has shaped them.

    Hopefully someone in Washington will note that although C.I.R.is still a distant dream a simple addition to the Dream act could at least benefit another group of young people so similar in many ways to illegals and no less deserving.

    Bob Franklin
    E2 holder of 19 years.

  3. Rita L. Fischer says:

    As a teacher for the past twenty-five years I have seen so many students work hard to graduate only to remain undocumented in the United States. They did not have a choice in coming to this country as children. The DREAM Act is hope for their future. We must help these young people by allowing them to obtain legal status.

    I recently became the legal guardian of one student who would have been sent back to a country that he barely remembers. I have spent an exorbitant amount of money in legal fees helping this very deserving young man. He has only one year and then he will need to apply once again for a visa to remain in the U.S. This means more money will be spent. Money that could be spent toward the education of the three children that I now have in college. Please pass the DREAM Act this year. It would truly be a dream come true for so many.

    Respectfully,

    Rita L. Fischer
    ESOL Teacher
    Elba Central School
    Elba, NY 14058

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