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DREAM Act re-introduction draws immediate fire

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Only a day after President Obama announced a new effort on immigration reform, a set of U.S. senators re-introduced legislation that would allow undocumented students whose parents are in the U.S. illegally to earn legal status.

The move drew immediate fire from the legislation’s opponents who said it would worsen the illegal immigration problem by drawing more undocumented immigrants and would provide “amnesty” to undocumented students.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and 30 other Senators re-introduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act on May 11. They said the “narrowly tailored bill” gives undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing.

The measure had passed a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last December, but was blocked in the Senate. In an immigration reform speech in El Paso, TX on May 10, President Obama urged the reintroduction of the legislation.

“Our immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from fully contributing to our nation’s future. These young people have lived in this country for most of their lives. It is the only home they know. They are American in every sense except their technical legal status,” said Durbin.

“Allowing these students to become productive citizens is not only good for them – it makes economic sense, would reduce our deficit by $2.2 billion in a decade and would strengthen our military and national security,” said Reid.

Republican reaction was swift. They said the measure would give an unfair advantage to undocumented students and could hurt the economy.

“It’s time for the Democrats to wake up to the reality that millions of Americans face right now: an unemployment crisis,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in a May 11 statement. “Nearly 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed yet Democrats are rallying for legislation that would make this problem worse.  The DREAM Act would prevent Americans from getting jobs since millions of illegal immigrants will become eligible to work legally in the United States,” he said. 

“I am sympathetic to the young illegal immigrant children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, but the DREAM Act doesn’t solve our illegal immigration problem, it exacerbates it.  Amnesty will encourage millions more parents to bring their children to the U.S. illegally,” he said.


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