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A Few Republicans Needed to Pass Critical Measure, Invest in America’s Youth and Armed Forces
Washington, DC – The news yesterday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is planning to join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in advancing the DREAM Act in the impending session of Congress is welcome news.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “On this Veterans Day, a fitting way to honor military service and sacrifice is to give young people who grew up in America the chance to continue this proud tradition. Passing the DREAM Act would be an investment in America as much as it is an investment in these young leaders. We applaud Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid for listening to the military experts and Department of Defense and setting up a vote on the DREAM Act this year. The measure has been around for a decade, and there’s no reason why Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t come together to pass it now.”
The DREAM Act would give high-achieving young people – immigrants who have been raised here, worked hard in school, and want to pursue higher education and/or serve in the U.S. military – a chance to achieve the American Dream and earn their citizenship. According to new polling conducted by Lake Research Partners, the DREAM Act enjoys broad public support, with sixty-six percent of voters overall approving of the measure, including majorities of Democrats (81%), Independents (60%), and Republicans (57%).
With House and Senate Democratic leaders now on record supporting passage of the DREAM Act this year, Republicans need to come forward. In fact, the DREAM Act has traditionally been a bipartisan effort. Its lead sponsors in the Senate are Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), and the House bill was authored by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). In the 108th Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-3 in favor of the DREAM Act, with support from current Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (who helped draft the legislation), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and John Cornyn (R-TX). The DREAM Act was also included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2006, after being included as an amendment in the Judiciary Committee by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and 23 Republican Senators voted for that bill (11 of whom are still in the Senate).
Military leaders and experts are also strongly in favor of the DREAM Act. For example, The FY2010-12 Strategic Plan for the Department of Defense’s Office of the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness recommends passage of the DREAM Act, in order to help the military “shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.” According to Louis Caldera, former Secretary of the Army, “The DREAM Act will materially expand the pool of individuals qualified, ready and willing to serve their country in uniform… I have no doubt many of these enlistees will be among the best soldiers in our Army.“
Perhaps most significantly on this Veterans Day, American history is filled with stories such as that of Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an immigrant from Guatemala who was killed in a tank battle In Iraq in March, 2003 – one of the first fatalities in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Notably, Lance Cpl. Gutierrez was a former undocumented immigrant, and is just one of more than 100 immigrants who have been granted posthumous citizenship after dying in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.