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Reid to Include DREAM Act in Defense Authorization Bill

The defense authorization bill is gladly becoming a vehicle to pay back core supporters who have been frustrated about a lack of action in the Congress for the past 20 months. We already knew that a legislative repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was included in the defense authorization bill; Harry Reid said yesterday that would get a vote early next week. Now we learn that another key initiative will get included in the package: the DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would allow undocumented students brought to America as children to earn a path to citizenship through completion of higher education or military service. Reid confirmed that at a press conference this afternoon.

This is not unprecedented: lead sponsor Dick Durbin tried to attach the DREAM Act to the defense authorization bill in 2007, but the amendment never made it. The fact that military service can be substituted as a qualification for a path to citizenship for undocumented students gives it a plausible reason to be in this bill.

Undocumented students all over the country have been aggressive in their advocacy for the DREAM Act, staging rallies and sit-ins at Congressional offices all over the country. That aggression has paid off, along with Harry Reid needing to boost the Hispanic vote in Nevada for his re-election, of course.

The DREAM Act is bipartisan policy, supported by the likes of Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch, which simply allows students not to be punished for something their parents did, and allows productive members of society who want to contribute to America the opportunity to do so. Regardless of the politics, this move would be pretty good policy, though just a step toward fixing the broken immigration system. [cont’d.]

UPDATE: The Center for Community Change, one of the leading groups working to get a vote on this, offers praise:

“The Center for Community Change thanks Sen. Reid for introducing the DREAM Act. Hundreds of thousands of ambitious and talented young people will be given the freedom to achieve their full potential with passage of this amendment. The students who will benefit from the DREAM Act have been raised and educated in the U.S., and we have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school. The DREAM Act will allow these immigrant students to have access to higher education, boosting the number of high skilled American-raised workers who can contribute a lifetime of revenues at the local, state and federal levels.

“We strongly support steps that move us closer to comprehensive immigration reform, such as the DREAM Act. Passing the DREAM Act will generate important political momentum to address our broken immigration system. Our communities are clear: we will not end our pressure on Washington, we will not stop engaging the fastest growing voting bloc in America, and we will not stop registering and engaging new voters until comprehensive immigration reform is achieved for America.”

UPDATE: It looks like the DREAM Act will get a vote as an amendment to the overall bill. The legislative repeal of DADT is already in the bill. It’s unclear how many votes the DREAM Act amendment would need, but my guess is 60.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Reid to Include DREAM Act in Defense Authorization Bill

The defense authorization bill is gladly becoming a vehicle to pay back core supporters who have been frustrated about a lack of action in the Congress for the past 20 months. We already knew that a legislative repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was included in the defense authorization bill; Harry Reid said yesterday that would get a vote early next week. Now we learn that another key initiative will get included in the package: the DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would allow undocumented students brought to America as children to earn a path to citizenship through completion of higher education or military service. Reid confirmed that at a press conference just now.

This is not unprecedented: lead sponsor Dick Durbin tried to attach the DREAM Act to the defense authorization bill in 2007, but the amendment never made it. The fact that military service can be substituted as a qualification for a path to citizenship for undocumented students gives it a plausible reason to be in this bill.

Undocumented students all over the country have been aggressive in their advocacy for the DREAM Act, staging rallies and sit-ins at Congressional offices all over the country. That aggression has paid off, along with Harry Reid needing to boost the Hispanic vote in Nevada for his re-election, of course.

The DREAM Act is bipartisan policy, supported by the likes of Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch, which simply allows students not to be punished for something their parents did, and allows productive members of society who want to contribute to America the opportunity to do so. Regardless of the politics, this move would be pretty good policy, though just a step toward fixing the broken immigration system.

UPDATE: The Center for Community Change, one of the leading groups working to get a vote on this, offers praise:

“The Center for Community Change thanks Sen. Reid for introducing the DREAM Act. Hundreds of thousands of ambitious and talented young people will be given the freedom to achieve their full potential with passage of this amendment. The students who will benefit from the DREAM Act have been raised and educated in the U.S., and we have already invested in the education of these children in elementary and secondary school. The DREAM Act will allow these immigrant students to have access to higher education, boosting the number of high skilled American-raised workers who can contribute a lifetime of revenues at the local, state and federal levels.

“We strongly support steps that move us closer to comprehensive immigration reform, such as the DREAM Act. Passing the DREAM Act will generate important political momentum to address our broken immigration system. Our communities are clear: we will not end our pressure on Washington, we will not stop engaging the fastest growing voting bloc in America, and we will not stop registering and engaging new voters until comprehensive immigration reform is achieved for America.”

UPDATE: It looks like the DREAM Act will get a vote as an amendment to the overall bill. The legislative repeal of DADT is already in the bill. It’s unclear how many votes the DREAM Act amendment would need, but my guess is 60.

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David Dayen

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