Reid Rolls Dice On Stand Alone Dream Act, Lame Duck Vote This Week
The hopes of an entire generation of young people depend upon how Washington votes on a proposal to pass the Dream Act this week. The chances for passage got tougher today as Senator Harry Reid filed for a vote on the Act as a stand-alone bill.
The Dream Act provides a narrow exception in immigration law for children of undocumented workers. It allows students to remain in the United States long enough to either go to college or serve in the armed forces. Those who complete their obligations would receive the necessary documents to remain in the United States as permanent residents. The bill is not amnesty because students must complete one of the two requirements or face deportation. The student must also pass a background check, have been in the U.S. for five years before passage of the Act, arrived in the U.S. before his 16th birthday, not be over 35 years of age, and pay hefty fines over time.
As immigration reform bills go, the Dream Act has had widespread support between Democrats and Republicans. Like other immigration reform, it has been just as widely opposed. An effort to pass the law prior to the elections by tying it to the Defense Authorization Bill along with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was unsuccessful. After the loss of the House to the Republicans who take over next year, this is the single best chance for immigrant youth in the foreseeable future.
Activists have launched a ‘six figure’ lobbying campaign for key Democratic and Republican senators. There are 23 Democratic senators who face re-election in 2012, with some already signaling they are not in favor of the bill. Meanwhile, a few moderate Republicans are considering supporting the law, perhaps with an eye to gaining favor with Hispanics.
Considering record spending during the last election cycle, and the 60 votes that are needed to keep the bill from filibuster, the funds allocated are mere drops in the bucket. How precious those few drops will be to the children of undocumented immigrants who have been waiting for many years so they can live the American dream.
Photograph from Truthout.org