Sen. Harry Reid has said he is going to make another attempt at passing the DREAM Act during the lame duck session of Congress. Reid, who was re-elected last week due to strong support from Latino Voters, will make a push in the final days of the 111th Congress.
The legislation would allow thousands of young people who attend college or join the military to become legal U.S. residents. Under the bill, the young people must have come to the U.S. before age 16 and have lived here for five years. At least two years of military service would be required.
Advocates of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act - better known as the Dream Act - say Reid has a better chance of passing the bill in the lame-duck session than he will when the new, divided Congress is sworn in this January.
“The reason the pressure is on Reid to pass it this year is that, starting in January, you’re going to have Republicans running the House who advocate mass expulsions, denying birthright citizenship, encouraging copycat Arizona immigration laws across the country, and fiercely opposing anything they would call ‘amnesty,’ including the Dream Act,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a national organization that supports the bill and advocates reform that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
“This is going to be the battleground for 2012,” Sharry said. “If people like Arizona (Republican) Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl don’t negotiate with Democrats on immigration reform, then I can see Democratic senators offering their own bill just as the Republican presidential primary is heating up. And guess what happens then? The Republican Party lurches to the right in order to pander to their base voters, alienating Latino voters. If the Republican candidate can’t get 40 percent of Latino voters, they won’t win and Barack Obama will be re-elected. I think that’s a powerful incentive for Republicans to do something.”