The Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill [the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act] offering the children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they serve in the military or complete two years of higher education. The defeat of the measure, which had attracted bipartisan support, underscored the difficulty of enacting even a narrowly tailored proposal in the polarizing atmosphere surrounding immigration reform.
The vote on the proposal was 52 to 44, short of the 60-vote margin needed to prevent a filibuster and begin debate. It was one small piece of a comprehensive immigration bill that collapsed in the Senate earlier this year, and it sparked a brief but heated debate.
Opponents called the bill a form of amnesty and argued that it would create incentives for illegal immigrants to cross the border with their children. But Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who supported the measure, said that “to turn on these children and treat them as criminals is an indication of the level of emotion and, in some cases, bigotry and hatred that is involved in this debate.”
LA Times story
I like the closing quote from Senator Durbin (D-Illinois):
“Don’t turn around and tell me tomorrow you need H-1B immigration visas to bring in talented people to America because we don’t have enough,” Durbin said. “Don’t take your anger on illegal immigration out on children who have nothing to say about this. They were brought to this country…. They’ve beaten the odds. We need them.”
I haven’t written much about the federal DREAM Act lately. Half of me supports it, and the other half of me feels the bills is rather weak. I don’t like the military service provision, which has been in previous iterations of the bill, but was more strongly stressed this time around. Second, undocumented students would still be ineligble for in-state tuition unless they were in a state like California or Texas which have laws which grant undocumented students in-state residency for tuition purposes. Third, students in college would not be eligible for federal grants, but would be able to get loans and work-study. On the positive side, the DREAM Act would regularize the status of those undocumented students who defy the odds and go through college or serve in the military. They’d actually be able to get jobs now.
Despite my ambivalence, I didn’t want to see the DREAM Act die. Arguably, it’s probably the most widely attractive immigration reform bill and it still couldn’t go anywhere. It’s another blow to the immigrant rights movement. If Congress doesn’t give a break to kids who had no choice but to follow their parents or guardians, then who will get a break?
One last question, why the hell was Barbara Boxer (D-California) not there?