DREAM Act, Gone But Not Forgotten
November 5, 2007
The Senate voted 52-44 on October 24th to open the DREAM Act for debate on the Senate floor. However, this vote was eight short of the required 60 to do so.
The DREAM Act would provide a means for certain undocumented immigrant students to obtain temporary and then permanent residence. In order to qualify for temporary status, the applicant must have come to the U.S. before age sixteen, must have lived here for at least five years, and must be under thirty years of age at the time of the Act’s passage. To get permanent status, the applicant must have graduated from high school and attended college for two years or served for two years in the military.
Despite these restrictions, opponents of the bill still think of it as a kind of amnesty that would be too easy on immigrants who are here illegally. Furthermore, the White House released a statement shortly before the vote saying that it should not be passed without strong enforcement measures taken against illegal immigration. There were also supporters of broader immigration reform who voted against the DREAM Act because it would weaken their chances of obtaining comprehensive immigration reform.
The Director of the CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project, Allan Wernick, testified before the New York City Council on October 24th, saying that the DREAM Act would make 12,000 New Yorkers eligible to become temporary residents right away. He also quoted CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Our experience at the City University of New York teaches us that our undocumented students are among those with the greatest potential to play leading roles in scholarship, public service and economic leadership. . . . As the demand for talented college-trained workers increases, we need these students as full participants in our society.”Although the DREAM Act could not proceed this time, advocates are still optimistic about its chances in the future. The National Immigration Law Center released a statement saying, “For the DREAM Act to have come so close is a remarkable accomplishment.”