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DREAMers and Immigration Advocates Prepare for First Ever DREAM Act Hearing Tomorrow

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dream actAs we reported last week, the DREAM Act is getting its first-ever Senate hearing tomorrow, despite having been first introduced in 2001 and being reintroduced multiple times since then.

The DREAM Act would offer talented young people who came to the United States as minors a chance to earn legal status and a path to citizenship – if they meet a set of stringent criteria that involves attending college or serving in the U.S. military.  The DREAM Act has consistently enjoyed overwhelming public support, and is favored by nearly 70 percent of voters according to a poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for First Focus in June 2010.  

When it was up for a vote in December of last year, the DREAM Act fell just five votes short of becoming law — though it did pass the House with majority (bipartisan) support and won a majority 55 votes in the Senate.  Earlier this year in May, the DREAM Act was introduced by a bi-partisan group of Representatives in the House and by Democrats in the U.S. Senate. According to our very own Frank Sharry:

The DREAM Act was once championed by Congressional Republicans but you would hardly know it today.  With this hearing, Senator Durbin and his Democratic colleagues are once again laying out the many compelling reasons to support DREAM and presenting Republicans with yet another opportunity to come to their senses.  We sincerely hope enough of the 12 Republicans currently serving in the Senate who have voted for some version of the DREAM Act in the past come home and join with Democrats to make the DREAM Act a reality this year.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the original author of the bill, is really pulling out all the stops for the hearing.  Among the witnesses scheduled to testify:

  • Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security

  • Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

  • Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

  • Margaret Stock, former professor at West Point

  • Ola Kaso, DREAMer from Albania who faced deportation just this month

In anticipation of the hearing, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former West Point professor Margaret Stock joined with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to endorse the DREAM Act on a press call scheduled for this afternoon. Other officials who have come out in support of the DREAM Act include Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy.

Opponents of the DREAM Act will be represented by Steven A. Camarota, the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is part of the anti-immigrant network created by John Tanton. As Director of Research, Camarota is perhaps best known for his publication that blames immigrants for global warming and another titled “The Minuteman’s Success” in reference to the notorious border vigilantes. CIS’ sister organization, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow and the next day, when DREAMers and allies all over the nation will gather to hold their own graduation ceremony in the Capitol.

The hearing will be live-cast on the Judiciary Committee website, and we, of course, will be livetweeting both events @americasvoice.