Wednesday, July 24, 2024


After years of negotiations, strategizing and lobbying efforts, the U.S. Senate today will have the rare opportunity to vote directly on an immigration measure when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will offer the Dream Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill.  The Dream Act would grant legal status to immigrant students who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents if the students meet certain criteria.

Sixty votes will be needed to first allow the Senate to move forward and consider the DOD bill, and then another sixty votes would be required to pass the Dream Act amendment.

President Obama has thrown his support behind Reid’s efforts and called on Republicans to lay partisanship aside and lend their needed votes to this measure.

National Latino organizations and pro-immigration groups have been rallying their constituencies around the country to call their Senators and voice their support for the proposed amendment.  A number of moderate Republicans, including Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine, who have supported the measure in the past, are top targets for both sides of the debate.

An editorial in Arizona’s largest paper, The Arizona Republic, came out in support of the Dream Act, even as the state’s senior senator, John McCain, is threatening a filibuster of the Defense bill over amendments.  In part, the paper argues:

Opponents who squawk “amnesty” are just plain wrong. Students would gain an opportunity to apply for citizenship only after proving their ability to make a contribution to the nation. And who would they be? Trained engineers, prospective teachers, military veterans, budding entrepreneurs – the type of young people who have made America great.

Students in Boston held a round-the-clock vigil outside the office of U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) since he is seen as a possibility for gaining Republican support.  Browne has supported Democratic proposals previously.

From Minnesota to Utah, students who would benefit from passage of the Dream Act are going public with their stories in hopes of persuading yet undecided lawmakers by presenting the message that they merely want an opportunity to contribute to American society (La Plaza).

While federal law does not forbid illegal immigrants from attending universities and colleges in the U.S., state laws vary on whether to grant illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates and only a handful allow it.

Even if undocumented immigrants graduate from college, they are forbidden from working legally in the U.S. under current federal law.

In addition to the Dream Act, the Senate could consider and equally controversial measure as an amendment, the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which forbids gay individuals from serving openly in the military.

The vote on whether or not to consider the Department of Defense spending bill, the first step in the process, is expected around 2:15 pm Eastern time.

Mass Live

AZ Central

Minnesota Public Radio