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Long-Time Champion Points Way Forward on Bipartisan Reform
Washington, DC – Following last week’s news that Democratic leaders are planning to move the DREAM Act during the lame duck session, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) today called on Speaker Pelosi to schedule a vote on the legislation this year. His public call to action adds an important voice from the Republican side of the aisle to the debate, and highlights the bipartisan support this measure enjoys.
Last week, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) also expressed her support for moving the DREAM Act in an interview with Univision, and incoming Representative David Rivera (R-FL) told Jorge Ramos that he supports the DREAM Act on Al Punto.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The core of the DREAM Act is about patriotism, hard work, and the American dream — values that cut across party lines. We are glad to see Republican champions like Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaking up for its passage, and we hope more of their colleagues join them.”
As Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in his statement: “Allowing undocumented students to attend primary and secondary schools but requiring that they pay out-of-state tuition for college creates an unfair financial burden that many, even very talented, students cannot overcome. We should stop hampering these deserving students’ educational opportunities due to the decisions of their parents and allow a vote on the American DREAM Act.”
As his statement notes, Diaz-Balart has sponsored or cosponsored the DREAM Act since 2002, and it has traditionally been a bipartisan piece of legislation. In the 111th Congress, DREAM’s lead sponsors are Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), 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 part of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate in 2006, after being included as an amendment in the Judiciary Committee by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Twenty-three Republican Senators voted for the 2006 bill (eleven 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.”
Said Sharry, “The drumbeat is getting louder. Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate and secure America’s future with the extremely popular, bipartisan DREAM Act.”
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