U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he sent a letter to Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell expressing "full support" for passage of the DREAM Act. "It's the right thing to do for our country," Duncan told reporters in an afternoon conference call.
The proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria and complete two years of college or military service. Opponents contend it is a form of amnesty for people who have broken U.S. laws.
Senate Majority Leader Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, said last week that he planned to attach the DREAM Act as an amendment to the defense authorization bill this week. According to Politico, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said last week that attaching the DREAM Act to the defense bill would make it "needlessly controversial."
As of early afternoon today, the DREAM Act amendment had not yet been attached to the bill, according to Marielena Hincapie, the executive director for the National Immigration Law Center and hostess for the conference call.
A call for closure on the defense bill is expected in the Senate today at 2:15 p.m. If the DREAM Act is attached, a vote on that act would follow in the next couple of days, Hincapie said.
"We have to educate our way to a better economy," Duncan said. "The DREAM Act means more young people will have fulfilled their potential."
Also voicing support for passage of the DREAM Act on the conference call with reporters were Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University; John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University; and Myrtle Dorsey, the chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College and the chair-elect of the American Association of Community Colleges.
Update: 3:15 p.m. I just saw on C-Span that the Senate blocked the defense authorization bill today and didn't permit the DREAM Act to go forward.