NAICU Washington Update

DREAM Act Scheduled for Controversial Vote

September 16, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has announced plans to attempt passing one piece of immigration reform prior to the November elections. Reid said he plans a vote in the Senate early next week to add the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense FY11 authorization bill.

The DREAM Act is widely supported throughout the higher education community.  It would affect students who came to the United States as illegal immigrants before they were age 16, and who have been in the country for at least five years.  The bill would grant those who qualify temporary residency.  They then would have the chance to earn permanent residency by either completing at least two years of college or serving at least two years in the armed forces and receiving an honorable discharge.

The DREAM Act has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, but has become ensnared in larger, more controversial, immigration reform measures.  Senate Republicans, many who have previously supported the DREAM Act, don't support adding it to the defense bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending and sets policy for the military.  They see the DREAM Act as a key component of comprehensive immigration reform, and regard the Democrats' peeling it off and adding it to the defense bill as a political effort to attract Hispanic votes going into the November elections.  Reid himself is in a tough reelection battle in a state where immigration is a top issue.

Reid has indicated he would like to have a vote on the DREAM Act sometime the week of September 20 - possibly on Tuesday, September 21.  NAICU members who want to register their views on the DREAM Act should contact their senators by noon on Tuesday, September 21.  All senators can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

MORE News from NAICU