With Comprehensive Immigration Reform Taking Center Stage, What Will Become Of The DREAM Act?
There is debate in Washington about whether or not it is wise to continue pressing for the DREAM Act in the wake of the Senate and the Obama administration's policy plans for comprehensive immigration reform. While Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) would encompass much more than the goals of the DREAM Act, the urgency of passing this reform is on the minds of young, immigrant students across the nation.
A new version of the DREAM Act is expected to be introduced soon by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D-Commerce), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Miami), and Luis Gutierrez, (D-Chicago). Some members of Congress feel that re-introducing DREAM Act might be viewed as a safety-net or substitute for the full breadth of reforms necessary, in part due to the rash of recent public support for a path to citizenship for undocumented young people demonstrated by prominent Republicans like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The sponsors of the bill, however, do not see it this way.
"This isn’t a substitute or a fall-back for [comprehensive immigration reform]," DREAM Act sponsor Matt Lee wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "The members are still strongly committed to passing a broad reform package. The strategy in introducing it now is to build on the momentum that already exists for immigration reform and to highlight the impact of our broken immigration system on the Dreamers and their families."
The DREAM Act has gained much wider bipartisan support and was even included in a defense bill since it failed to make it through the Senate in 2010, thus it could be a speedier achievement of the CIR package. The immense momentum for immigration reform coming from within as well as outside of Congress shows no signs of abating.
DREAMers and all immigration activists know that the need for reform extends far beyond their aptly-named bill and will continue to put pressure on politicians until the system is completely fixed and sustainable.
Samantha Bellach, a teacher at Arizona Collegiate High School, a school with many undocumented students, told Campus Progress that the DREAM Act has become the nexus of many new Americans' experiences and interests within the educational system. "Undocumented students in my classes overcome so much and still make school their priority," she said.
A continued fight for the DREAM Act respects the investment of these students in their education and their engagement in one of the greatest civil rights struggles of our time.
Emma Weinstein Levey is a reporter at Campus Progress.Follow her on Twitter @ebwlevey.