The American DREAM? Senate Votes Against Education for Immigrant Youth
Blog Post About DMI's TheMiddleClass.org
The DREAM Act -- a piece of legislation that would grant citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants who either join the military or attend college -- failed a test vote in the Senate. According to an article in today's Times, the bill failed by a vote of 52-44. Sixty votes were required for the bill to be discussed on the Senate floor. The DREAM Act would have allowed the children of undocumented immigrants legal residency and ultimately a path to citizenship, provided that they had been in the US for at least five years, arrived here before the age of 16, and completed at least two years of college or two years of service in the military.
The bill, sponsored by Richard Durbin of Illinois, would have helped anywhere from 715,000 to 2.1 million young immigrants who are currently in a state of legal limbo. As Senate Republican Orin Hatch said, "They follow the rules, they work hard in school, and unfortunately, they are undocumented, so their options are greatly limited, and they can be deported at any time. We are not a country that punishes children for the mistakes of their parents."
According to TheMiddleClass.org,
"The DREAM Act would enable students who immigrated to the U.S. as children to further their education, get better jobs, and, as a result, pay more in taxes, contributing more to the economic prosperity necessary to sustain a strong middle class. Fulfilling their potential, they may be the nation’s future innovators and entrepreneurs and will make up part of the educated workforce needed to help the U.S. compete in the global economy. The students who would be impacted by the legislation grew up in this country, attended U.S. schools, speak English, and consider themselves Americans – many cannot remember living anywhere else. An unsatisfactory alternative to the DREAM Act is that these talented young people might never achieve their potential, but will instead be marginalized by their lack of legal status in the country they grew up in, and will continue to live in the shadows, working low-paid jobs off the books and contributing far less to the U.S. and its national prosperity than they might have. America does not benefit when young people eager to offer their skills and talents are punished for the decisions made by their parents."
Currently, only 10 percent of undocumented immigrants who are high school graduates attend college. This legislation would have helped to create a stronger, more educated middle class, allowing thousands of young immigrants to come out of the shadows and live and work legally in the country that they call their own.