DREAM Act Proposal Shot Down Again
October 31, 2007

The most current version of the DREAM Act (which has been an evolving congressional concept since 2001) fell eight votes short of passing a Senate test vote on October 24, meaning that the bill will not be debated or amended.

The demised bill, sponsored by Democrat Senator Durbin of Illinois and Republican Senators Hagel of Nebraska and Lugar of Indiana, sought to provide illegal immigrant students with legal status who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, graduated from high school, and committed to either serving in the military or attending college for at least two years. The bill was designed to assist young people in the U.S. who are without legal status as a result of their parents’ decisions, rather than their own.

Congressional opponents of the bill saw it as an amnesty. The White House issued a statement opposing the bill finding it to be unfair to those who had followed immigration laws, stating that it included “loopholes” that would make immigrants convicted of crimes eligible and that it would lead to document fraud. The White House concluded by stating that although immigration is a top concern, “it needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and balanced way that avoids creating incentives for problems in the future.”

Admittedly, the new law in Oklahoma and the failure of the DREAM Act are setbacks for the undocumented community and its advocates. However, state legislation such as that enacted by Oklahoma may cause federal lawmakers to again focus their efforts on immigration reform. Some senators voted against the DREAM Act because it did not address immigration in a broad enough manner. Republican Senator Specter of Pennsylvania strongly supported this past summer’s proposed immigration legislation, which would have treated undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. in a considerably favorable light. Specter said that the Dream Act “weakens our position to get a comprehensive bill.”

Copyright © 2007-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois