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For Political and Moral Reasons, GOP Should Support DREAM

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Washington – As the DREAM Act moves toward Senate action this month, a number of Republican senators are raising excuse after excuse to try to avoid a vote on the bill.  But a growing number of political analysts and religious leaders are pointing out the shortsightedness of Republican opposition to DREAM, and calling on reasonable voices from within the Party to help the bill become law.  The fact is, Republican senators have both moral and political reasons to support the DREAM Act.  Moreover, they will face real political consequences if they do the wrong thing and vote against bright young Latinos later this month.

The DREAM Act has long been a bipartisan bill, and is supported by voters across party lines.  In fact, as we pointed out yesterday, fifteen current Republican senators have voted for the DREAM Act in one way or another over the past seven years.  In fact, the bill was originally drafted by conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), along with current champion Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).  Just last week, the House passed its version of the legislation with support from eight Republicans.

Here are some examples of the mounting pressure on Republicans to do the right thing and vote for the DREAM Act:

The Political Consequences for Republican Opposition to DREAM are Stark

  • Conservative columnist and former Reagan Administration official Linda Chavez wrote, “Do Republicans really want to tell young people who’ve lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield: “We don’t want you”?…A number of Republicans who previously supported the legislation – including one of its chief authors, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah – have decided it is too risky to vote for it now. But the real risk is to the future of the Republican Party.” 
  • In a column published on The Americano website, a Newt Gingrich-backed source of conservative Latino commentary, professor Stephen Nuño wrote: “Removed from the peccadilloes of cultural purity which consumes the fear-driven arguments against the Dream Act, Latino Republicans see the economic benefits as well as the moral weight of the issue that are resoundingly in favor of passage…There is nothing about protecting our borders that requires us to be bigoted or insensitive to the impact our policies have on Latino families.  Republicans with legitimate national aspirations are getting a clue.  They look at the electoral landscape and see a Latino demographic that will have an important impact on the future of electoral politics.”
  • In an article titled, “Dream Act May Come Back to Haunt the GOP,” the Los Angeles Times reported: “After years of courting Latino voters with a softer tone on immigration, Republican leaders in Congress have all but abandoned that posture, risking what remains of GOP support among the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population…The party’s once solicitous outreach to Latino voters has been all but drowned out by a powerful grass-roots movement incensed over illegal immigration…But the GOP approach to immigration may come back to haunt the party.”

Conservative Religious and Opinion Leaders Also Explain How DREAM is Aligned with Conservative Values

  • The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) said: “because of its commitment to education and personal responsibility through academic enrichment and military service, [the DREAM Act is] quite possibly the most pro-family, traditional, pro-military, pro-self-reliance piece of legislation in years.  Republicans should rise as the staunchest supporters of a policy proposal that incorporates the most fundamental components the Conservative credo.  For that matter, opposition to the DREAM Act must be interpreted as both politically naïve and morally irreconcilable with any pro-family agenda.” 
  • Former Bush Administration speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson highlighted a “basic economic determination: Would this category of hardworking immigrants ultimately be an advantage to America or a drain?  It is a principle of democratic capitalism and non-Malthusian economics that ambitious human beings are not just mouths but hands and brains.  They are a resource – the main source of future wealth.”

Home-State Editorials and Columnists are Questioning Republican Senators’ Opposition

  • In Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported that an organization of Latino Republicans is denouncing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s apparent opposition to the DREAM Act.  The national group Somos Republicans wrote, “We are conservative Republicans who hold traditional military and social values.  We are troubled by the fact that you failed to recognize that Hispanics in Texas are overwhelmingly in support of the DREAM Act.” 
  • Also in Texas, Scott Stroud of the the San Antonio Express-News called out Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for his continued hypocrisy on immigration reform, including the DREAM Act.  Wrote Stroud, Cornyn “expresses sympathy for students who would be affected by the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, and yet he doesn’t think he can help them just yet.”  Noting Cornyn’s “border security first” excuses for not passing DREAM, Stroud wrote, “That’s the politics of fear if you ever saw it, but with a campaign finance twist.  You don’t have to run your finger more than a couple of inches down Cornyn’s campaign donor list to see contractors likely to have a rooting interest in border security.  Beyond that, Cornyn knows any reasonable immigration law will be harder to pass when the new Congress arrives. If he sincerely thinks these students aren’t culpable, the time to do something about it is now.”
  • In Arizona, the Arizona Republic editorialized that “Opposing the Dream Act is a stunning rejection of real, live children whose just want to serve the nation they see as their homeland,” and wrote that “Arizona’s senators can decry such narrow, limited thinking.  John McCain and Jon Kyl can be leaders and help get the Dream Act through Congress this year.”
  • In Utah, after noting the “craven flip-flopping” of former DREAM sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board wrote that “Those who would gain the most from passage of the DREAM Act are people who think, speak and act as American as so many Mayflower descendants, yet are made to suffer for the sins of their fathers,” and called for the “long-overdue passage of the DREAM Act.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Whether motivated by the political writing on the wall or the moral urgency of doing what is right on behalf of kids who want to give back to their home country, the moment of truth is at hand for Republicans in the Senate.  Instead of offering up weak excuses, they should stand and be counted in support of talented young people who are American in all but paperwork.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.