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Defense Authorization Bill Moves Forward Without "DREAM Act"


Sen. Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, was unable yesterday to get enough support from other lawmakers to include the "DREAM Act" as an amendment to a U.S. Department of Defense authorization bill, according to an e-mail message sent to me by his staff. The amendment would have provided a path to legalization for undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college or serve in the military for at least two years—and meet certain other criteria.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, however, voiced his support for the DREAM Act on the U.S. Senate floor yesterday and made a commitment to move the measure forward by Nov. 16, according to a transcript of his speech forwarded to me by Sen. Durbin's staff.

When Sen. Durbin first introduced a version of the bill to the U.S. Senate in 2001, he called it the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Reid's speech: "Many of the children this bill would help are extremely talented and have graduated at the top or near the top of their classes but yet can't get to a state school. What a waste to make it more difficult for them to go to college or prohibit them from getting jobs when they could be making meaningful contributions to the communities and to our country."

As you can tell by the comments on this blog, however, critics of the DREAM Act oppose it because they feel it would provide a form of "amnesty" for undocumented people who are living in this country.

While for years the DREAM Act contained a provision clarifying that states could provide in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students who were eligible to benefit from the act, that provision was dropped in the version of the act filed in the U.S. Senate last week.

In a telephone conversation this morning, Melissa Lazarin, who followed the DREAM Act for years for the National Council of La Raza and now is monitoring it for a children's advocacy organization called First Focus, told me it was "a reasonable compromise" for lawmakers supporting the DREAM Act to drop the in-state tuition provision, to increase the chances of gaining support for the measure. The most important part of the measure is that it would provide a path to legalization for some undocumented students, she said.


Mary Ann,

Thank you for following this issue. I have just linked to your blog from ours at DemocracySpace.org:


I wonder whether opponents of this bill might change their minds if they personally knew of someone who could benefit from the DREAM Act. I know one such young woman. Click my name to read the story of Brenda DeLeon from Nebraska, who is forging ahead with her education despite being caught in legal limbo.

Mary Ann,

Great news: No sooner had I made the comment above that I got an email from Brenda letting me know her case was DROPPED by the courts last spring due to an overwhelming show of support from people who know Brenda and what an asset she is to our country.

There are many, many more Brendas out there. Their stories need to be told and their DREAMs need to be kept alive.

Brenda and all like her need to exit the country and file the the correct paperwork to legally re-enter our country.

I have friends in Germany who would love to be an American but because they follow the law that is not possible.

It's not about race, or country of origin it's about following the law. Illegal is illegal at 5, 10, 18 or 50 years old.

Dream act: THEY REMOVED THE INSTATE TUITION, and yea people can come here legally but some countries get paid less then coutires like geremany and also there is hardly no chance for a (mexicans citizen) for example to live here legaly because it's hard....in mexico its like $80 dollars every 2 weeks for a management job, so there is little opportunity.

its ppl like this guy that make me wonder what we consider "American" you would propose deporting an innocent toddler merely because they are undocumented? And do you really know anything about immigration law? You and the equally myopically moronic of your ilk seem to think there's some specific legal recourse for minors to tap, so they can simply exit the country and file the right paper work. THERE'S NONE! There's no legal avenue for them, thats why these kids need a law passed to get then out of their legal no-man's land. Oh, I'm a 42 yr old white conservative male, who likes to take a practical and humane approach to immigration instead of "Bob's" approach.

I feel sorry for my best friend son, this boy come to US 20 yrs ago when he was 4 month old. After graduate from HS he enlisted at the ARMY but got refused, even his father is Permanent Residence and his brother and sister US citizen. I think our goverment need to adjust this immigration regulation for this kind of matter. His cousin now already serve in the Marine in Iraq, what do you think ?

When I was 6 years old I was brought to this country illegaly. I am now 23 and have never been outside this country. I am in college and have no criminal record at all! Can opponents of this bill tell me why I shouldn't have a chance? Do they honestly believe I had a voice when my parents decided to bring me here? America is my home and always will be. I always wanted to join the airforce as a child only to find out I could not when I was 18 because of my status.

My parents didn't even tell me I was an illegal immigrant until about two weeks ago when they had to explain why I couldn't sign up for driver's ed in school.

Yep, Driver's Ed, college, High schoool. I've gone through all of it too. When I was 10 years old, I didn't know my life was going to be like this. To me, it was just like moving to any other place.

But obviously Rebublicans seem to think we should be held responsible for all of that too.

I am a college student, and I am undocumented.I just want to let people know that I don't want any money from the government. All I want is to be able to apply any internship or scholarship that I wanted. I study very hard, and I have a 3.8 GPA; but I can never apply for anything. Sometimes I ask myself why do I try so hard and knowing that I will never be able to do the same thing as others. I just want to have the same opportunity as my peers.If Dream Act will pass, it would change my life. I did not come to this country because I wanted to, because I was sent to this country. I haven't seen my grandparents or my parents for 6 years. Which is 1/3 of my whole lifetime. I have one relative who is U.S citizen, she has a blue collar job, she pays her taxes, and my college tuition with her savings. We never take any food stamp or any kind of government supplements. And she always tells me that I have to appreciate this country for giving me the opportunity to get a good education. My dream is to get my CPA, work for a non-profit organization and see my grandparents and parents.

I am a US citizen and am strongly in favor of the DREAM ACT or any such law that would help illegal kids here integrate into this society.The whole point is these people are here and are not going anywhere even if states make their own laws or DHS builds fences.Though their parents brought them here by choice in the first place its the kids who do not have a choice.They are like any normal kids who go to school etc.and due to their deprived status they try all the more harder to prove their worth to their families,schools and to themselves.We must GIVE THEM A CHANCE and benefit from their skills by letting them serve in the military or make scholars out of them so that they can enrich America.

I am highly in favor of the Dream Act. I am one of the many undocumented student aliens who cannot "live" to our full potentials due to the lack of paperwork required to do so many things. In order for us to be prosperous in the States we have to have the neccesary documents that will allow us the opportunity to be of relevance in this country.

Honorable students raised in the United States who found out in their later years that they are not in America legally.

If the United States saw these decent law abiding immigrants as a problem then these immigrants should have been out of the country already.

Support the DREAM Act. Young promising students of the future CANNOT be equated to criminals. These young people have done no wrong in this country and DESERVE the chance to the DREAM Act

Illegal Aliens who have gotten a free $100,000
education compliments of U.S. taxpayers should
be a little more grateful instead of asking for
more$ and the legalization of their illegal alien
parents. They should pursue higher education
in their home country Mexico..the richest country
in Latin America and the home of Carlos Slim the
richest man in the world!

OneifbyLand: Imagine graduating from high school with honors, and dreams of being a doctor or scientist who can cure cancer, only to find out you aren't an American Citizen. Your parents never told you because they wanted you to have a good life with more opportunities than they had. Be honest with yourself, would you jump up and leave the US as soon as you found out you weren't legal, leaving everything you know behind for a place that is foreign to you; a place where you don't know or understand the culture and likely not even the language? Instead of being so quick to judge that which you don't understand, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone else. I'm an American, born and bred. There are plenty of illegal immigrants that could and should be deported. Realistically, these kids didn't have any more of a choice in their parents decisions to bring them to the US and not tell them their status than we had in being fortunate enough to have been born here.

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