Senate Democrats held a press conference this morning (re)introducing the U.S. DREAM Act, a day after President Obama gave a speech on border enforcement and immigration reform in El Paso, Texas. (We live-tweeted the press conference here.)
The DREAM Act would grant conditional permanent residency to young, undocumented immigrant students who were brought to the United States as children. They must graduate from a U.S. high school, be of good moral character, have been in the country for at least five years, and complete at least two years of military service or college education. The last time it was introduced (in December), the DREAM Act failed in the Senate, where it received 55 votes of the 60 that it needed to pass.
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) spoke of the young students the DREAM Act would help, and tried to explain the need for the bill:
We have already made enormous investments in public education for these students. And when it’s time for them to be able to fulfill returning to the nation what they have received, we say, no thanks.
The only flag these students have ever pledged allegiance to is to the United States. The only national anthem they have ever sung is the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’
This is not an open door or a free ride. They will pay tuition, pay taxes, pay a fine, and follow the law in applying for residency.