Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dream Act

US Senate:
The Grinch that Stole Christmas 2010

December 18, 2010
By a margin of five votes, the DREAM Act failed today to achieve the 60
votes necessary to ensure its passage in the US Senate. First introduced
in 2001, the Dream Act would have provided a pathway to legalization for
hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who enroll in college
or join the US military.

The vote fell on December 18, which is celebrated around the world as
International Migrants Day.

Approved by a slim majority of 216-198 in the US House last December 8,
the Dream Act was supported by a broad array of national organizations and
individuals, including President Barack Obama, US Conference of Catholic
Bishops, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, National Network
for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, law
enforcement leaders, and many others.

Pro-Dream Act supporters immediately expressed dismay at the Senate’s action.

“Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats have forgotten the meaning
of Christmas,” said Angela M. Kelly of the Washington-D.C-based Center for
American Progress Action Fund. “Rather than offer tidings of comfort and
joy, they voted to shatter the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands
of young people by rejecting the DREAM Act, a limited measure for
immigrant youth that would also have strengthened our military and

Kelley termed the Senate vote a “Grinch-like rejection.”

As it was written, the DREAM Act would have opened to the door to
legalization for undocumented young people under 30 years of age who were
brought to this country before the age of 16 and count at least five years
of residency in the US.

Toddlers when they arrived, many of the so-called Dreamers have been
raised in US culture and speak English fluently. With the defeat of the
DREAM Act, such young people now face an increased risk of deportation to
countries they do not really know.

Outside the beltway, pro-immigrant groups mobilized in support of a
movement that picked up steam in recent months as groups of undocumented
students and pro-Dream Act youth staged sit-ins and demonstrations around
the country.

In New Mexico, for instance, the Las Cruces-based Task Force for Immigrant
Advocacy and Services (TIAS) released a statement prior to the vote on the
DREAM Act. Made up of social services providers, community advocates,
people of faith and academic researchers, TIAS noted that many DREAM
generation youth were productive and promising members of the southern New
Mexico community, participating in church activities, sports, school clubs
and the workplace.

On the other hand, DREAM Act opponents contended that the legislation's
passage would reward law-breaking and open the door to “amnesty” for other
undocumented residents.

On Capitol Hill, Republican Congressmen Lamar Smith of Texas objected to
the DREAM Act on the grounds that illegal immigrants would benefit from
public funds invested in university education.

“The Dream Act would mean fewer jobs for American workers,” further read a
statement posted on Smith’s website. “And the Congressional Budget Office
said it would cost taxpayers billions of dollars….”

Smith’s colleague, California Representative Dan Lungren maintained
approval of the DREAM Act would trigger a chain of new immigration to the

In the Senate, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, who once
supported comprehensive immigration reform, came out as opposed to the
Dream Act.
Graham accused the Democrats of playing political games with the
legislation, which he said would not fly until other conditions were

“We are not going to approve the DREAM Act or any other legalization
program as long as our borders are not secure,” Graham said.

Following the Senate’s December 18 failure to move the Dream Act forward,
supporters of the proposed law vowed to keep their eyes on the
legalization prize and target anti-DREAM Act legislators in future

In a statement blasting a “moral and political travesty,” the National
Council of La Raza (NCLR) declared that Republicans had lost a “golden
opportunity” to mend fences with Latinos.

“It is now crystal clear to Latinos who stood with them and who did not,”
said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia.

Earlier attracting wide interest in Mexico and other Latin American
countries, the death of the Dream Act in the 2010 Senate was played up on
the main Internet news websites south of the border.

On the eve of the Senate vote, La Jornada columnist Ana Maria Aragones
questioned whether US legislators were capable of grasping what was in the
best interests of their country.

“If the Senate doesn’t approve the Dream Act, an entire generation of
young people will be kept in legal limbo, and their potential could be
lost,” Aragones wrote. “Mexico already failed to take advantage of them,
to the shame of the country. Let’s hope the US and its lawmakers are at
least viewed as being more interested in their own country.”

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