Monday, November 21, 2005

DREAM Act Redux

From The National Immigration Law Center website: A bipartisan group of Senators officially introduced the DREAM Act of 2005, giving new life to legislation that has been in a holding pattern since the beginning of the year. The sponsor of the DREAM Act of 2005 is Richard Durbin (D-IL), and the lead Republican cosponsors are Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). The other original cosponsors are Norm Coleman (R-MN), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), and Barack Obama (D-IL). (Michael Olivas points out that previous sposor Orrin hatch (Rep-Utah) is not a sponsor o this bioll.). If enacted, the DREAM Act would transform the lives of persons who were brought to the U.S. years ago as undocumented children and who have stayed in school and out of trouble since their arrival. Currently these individuals have no pathway to legalize their immigration status and get on with their lives. The DREAM Act would correct this flaw by providing that upon high school graduation, these individuals-who have grown up in the United States-would be able to apply for six years of "conditional" legal immigration status which would be made permanent if they continue on to college or to serve in the military. Among those helped would be Marie Gonzalez who grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri. A Latina Magazine Mujer of the year, she became a symbol for others like her when she was able to stave off deportation earlier this year with the help of thousands of supporters. Now she is quietly attending college, but her reprieve only lasts until July of 2006, at which time she could again face deportation if the DREAM Act is not enacted. The features of the DREAM Act of 2005 are nearly identical to the version that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last year by a 16-3 vote. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), formerly the Chair of that Committee, was then the sponsor of the DREAM Act. He has assured constituents that his failure to introduce it again this year does not mean that he is any less supportive than he was in the past. Introduction of the DREAM Act comes at a time when the broader immigration debate is becoming more and more politicized and contentious. DREAM Act supporters argue that it deserves to considered on its own merits, regardless of one's position on other immigration issues. It will have a far bigger impact on education, fairness to children, and American competitiveness than on immigration to this country. Supporters argue that young people facing high school graduation and major decisions about college or work should not be asked to wait until Congress resolves all of the other vexing immigration issues. Rather, Congress should act now and take these young people off of the field of battle of the immigration wars. Additional information about the DREAM Act is available at: http://nilc.org/immlawpolicy/index.htm#DREAM

KJ

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