U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today that one of his biggest disappointments during the Obama administration's first term was the failure to get any traction on the DREAM Act, the long-stalled federal legislation that would open up a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented students.
In remarks he gave at a two-day Washington forum held by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Duncan used words like "insane" and "crazy" to describe scenarios in which promising students—who were brought to the United States illegally as children—can't attend college or otherwise pursue higher education and careers because they lack legal status.
His comments on the DREAM Act were in response to a question about how the Obama administration would address the needs of the growing, and increasingly influential Latino community and voting bloc. His remarks are consistent with what he has long said about the need to pass the DREAM Act, both at the federal level and in individual states, so that college-aspiring undocumented students can access in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, as well as financial aid.
Duncan suggested that the president's overwhelming support among Latino voters in the election has created momentum to work on immigration reform.
Yesterday, three influential Republican senators introduced a measure meant to be an alternative to the DREAM Act. Their legislation would allow undocumented students who enroll in higher education or enlist in the military to seek legal, permanent residency but not citizenship.