Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Senate takes up DREAM Act

According to the Congressional Quarterly, a spokeswomen for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today that the Dream Act will be taken up following Tuesday's expected final vote on the 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043).

Beyond the spending bill, it is unclear what legislation will round out next week’s floor schedule. The chamber could take up an immigration bill related to children (S 774), said Regan Lachapelle, a Reid spokeswoman.

Sponsored by Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., the bill would allow children of illegal immigrants who entered the United States before age 16 and lived here at least five years to gain conditional legal status. Under the bill, they could attain eventual citizenship if they attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years.

Congressional Quarterly

Ried, invoking Senate Rule XIV, has fast tracked the stand-alone bill, now numbered S.2205, which having languished in the Senate in one form or another for more than seven years, could finally be taken up as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Needless to say this news has received an apoplectic response from the ranks of the nativist wingnut agitators. They will undoubtedly try to rally their minion of flying monkeys to flood the offices of every Senator in Washington over the next few days. Numbers USA and FAIR already have screaming headlines up their sites to exhort their followers to action.

To counter this effort, an even more overwhelming response must be initiated on behalf of the thousand of children whose only hope at achieving the American dream rests on the passage of this bill.
Each year approximately 2.8 million students graduate from US High Schools. Some will go on to college, join the military, or take other paths in life, hopefully all becoming productive members of society. But for approximately 65,000 of them, these opportunities will never be available. Not because they lack motivation, or achievement, but because of the undocumented status passed on to them by their parents.

Lacking legal status and social security numbers, these students, raised and schooled in the US, cannot apply to college, get jobs other than those at the bottom of the economic ladder, or otherwise follow their dreams. They grew up on American soil, worked hard and succeeded in spite of all odds, and want nothing more than to be recognized as individuals and not just the holders of a status they had no part in acquiring.

In Washington, politicians have debated the fate of these kids for more than seven years, holding lives and futures in their hands while vying for political advantage.

For these kids, and the thousand more who have already managed, through sheer force of will, to complete their higher education but now face a life of uncertainty and alienation, the DREAM Act is the only answer. Please call your Senators starting first thing Tuesday morning.

Here's a list of the most needed votes to make DREAM a reality.

This list of 19 fence sitters hold the hopes and dreams of thousands of hardworking, conscientious , kids in their hands. Kids who've done all that was asked of them, and now only want an opportunity to be the Americans they have always regarded themselves as.
-DUKE'S HOT 19 -

Murkowski (R-AK) 202-244-6665
Stevens (R-AK) 202224-3004
Pryor (D-AR) 202-224-2353
Martinez (R-FL) 202-224-3041
Inouye (D-HI) 202-224-3934
Brownback (R-KS) 202-224-6521
Landieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824
Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523
Snowe (R-ME) 202-224-5344
Conrad (D-ND) 202-224-2043
Dorgan (D-ND) 202-224-2551
Dominici (R-NM) 202-224-6621
Voinovich (R-OH) 202-224-3353
Smith (R-OR) 202-224-3753
Graham (R-SC) 202-224-5972
Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842
Cornyn (R-TX) 202-224-2934
Warner(R-VA) 202-224-2023
Rockefeller (D-VA) 202-224-6472

At seven pages long, the DREAM Act has a few simple provisions that would allow thousands of kids who've worked hard and played by the rules to qualify for the exact same rights afforded every student in the nation. ... the right to continue their educations and make a better life for themselves and there families.

Wingers call the legislation "just one more shamnsty" bill, because it allows those who have lived here most of there lives, and know no other home, a conditional reprieve from arrest and deportation. It allows them a chance to temporarily shrug off the yoke of their parents "misdeeds" and provides them an opportunity to prove themselves "worthy" of their adopted home.

The DREAM Act would provide a path to legality for persons brought illegally to the United States by their parents as children, or whose parents attempted to immigrate legally but were then denied legality.
To qualify, the immigrant student would have to meet certain requirements:

  • Proof of having arrived in the United States before reaching 16 years of age;

  • Proof of residence in the United States for a least five (5) consecutive years since their date of arrival.

  • Having graduated from an American High School, or obtained a GED.

  • "Good moral character," essentially defined as the absence of a significant criminal record (or any drug charges whatsoever).

  • Had not yet reached the age of 30 years on the date of enactment of this Act

After meeting the above requirements students would be eligible to apply for a temporary six year "conditional" residence permit which would allow them to live legally in the United States, obtain driver's licenses, attend college as in-state residents, work legally (including obtaining a social security number), and apply for special travel documents which would allow for travel outside of the country for limited amounts of time.
During the six years of conditional status, the eligible immigrant would be required to either:

  1. graduate from a two-year community college,

  2. Complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or

  3. serve two years in the U.S. military.

After the six year period, an immigrant who meets at least one of these three conditions would be eligible to apply for legal permanent resident (green card) status. During their temporary time, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants such as Pell grants, though they would be able to apply for student loans and work study.

If the immigrant does not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six year time period, their temporary residence would be revoked and he or she would be subject to deportation.

During the six years, the immigrant must not commit any crimes other than those considered non-drug related misdemeanors, regardless of whether or not they have already been approved for permanent status at the end of their six years.

Being convicted of a major crime or drug-related infraction would automatically remove the six year temporary residence status and he or she would be subject to deportation.

If the immigrant meets all of the conditions at the end of the 6-year conditional period, he or she would be granted a permanent green card with the same rights as a permanent resident alien, including the right to apply for U.S. citizenship.

It's a simple enough bill. No hundreds of pages of legal-speak and loopholes like most immigration related legislation.

The qualifications are simple and cut and dry, The "benefits" and obligations easily understood. You can read a copy here to see for yourself.

Wingers are already gearing up to fight this bill. Their spin machine of obfuscating rhetoric is ready to go. Numbers USA has already sent out hundreds of thousands of action alerts to oppose the legislation. Michele Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Relly and Lou Dobbs are already spreading their foul bile and propaganda.

But there's not much to debate here.

One either sees these children raised and schooled in America as future Americans ...or sees them as nothing more than the products of their parents "misdeeds" who must be punished the rest of their lives as such.

Call your Senators Now (call between 9am and 5 pm)

Or e-mail your Senator

Better yet, Fax you Senator now

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