Speaking Tuesday, President Obama presented his plan for immigration reform. The President called on Congress to pass the DREAM Act. President Obama says "we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents." Wednesday, Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen along with two other Representatives introduced a measure in the U.S. House. A similar measure was introduced in the Senate Wednesday.
The DREAM Act would provide a pathway for young undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent residency in the United States. Similar measures have been introduced in Congress for a number of years. Last year the DREAM Act passed the House. The Senate bill failed in December after Senate Republicans argued the measure would provide amnesty to some undocumented immigrants.
The measures introduced in Congress this week would allow certain immigrants to obtain legal status in the U.S., based upon certain conditions:
- The undocumented immigrant entered the country when they were 15-years-old or younger and have resided continuously in the country for five years
- The individual has good moral character
- The immigrant has a high school diploma or GED
- The individual has completed two years of college or has served in the U.S. military for two years in good standing
The bill's lead sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says United States "immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from fully contributing to our nation's future." He says young immigrants "are American in every sense except their legal status."
Critics, however, such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R. Tex.) says he is sympathetic to youth who would qualify under the measure. But he says the measure would exacerbate America's immigration problems. He says the measure would provide amnesty and "encourage millions more parents to bring their children to the U.S. illegally."
Source: USA Today, "Democrats in Congress renew fight for DREAM Act," Catalina Camia 11 May 2011