Moment of Truth Later this Week
Washington – Despite the DREAM Act’s clear economic benefits and compelling testimonials from military and education leaders calling for its passage, Republicans in the Senate continue to raise excuse after excuse to avoid a vote on the DREAM Act later this week. Despite this blatant political maneuvering by some senators, the young people who would benefit from the legislation are showing what real leadership is about. They continue to lobby their representatives in Congress, organize prayer vigils, blood drives, and hunger strikes, and courageously tell their stories publicly to make one simple request: let me be a citizen of the only country I call home.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The moment of truth will soon be upon our leaders in Congress. Instead of trying to run out the clock on the lame duck session, point fingers at Democratic leaders, or come up with excuse after excuse to vote no on DREAM, Senate Republicans should be straight with these young people and our nation. Do you stand with these bright and talented young people who represent the best of America, or do you stand against them?”
Recent Republican excuses to avoid a vote on DREAM include:
- The DREAM Act is “distracting” the Senate from “other priorities.” Senator Orrin Hatch, the original co-sponsor of DREAM back in 2001, said through his spokeswoman, “Everything’s a ‘no’ until the tax issue is resolved,” and every Republican senator recently signed a letter pledging to hold other issues hostage until their core priorities are addressed. This is a blatant attempt to run out the clock on DREAM and other issues. But the DREAM Act is well-known legislation, has had strong bipartisan support in the past, and could quickly be disposed of, along with other important issues, if Republicans were willing to do so.
- The current version of the DREAM Act differs significantly from past iterations. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) told The Hill via email that the current version of DREAM “is very different from and broader than previous efforts.” Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has never hidden his opposition to any version of DREAM, is giving cover to this argument by telling Fox News that DREAM is “poorly drafted” and “filled with loopholes.” In fact, the newest version of DREAM responds to stated concerns about the scope of the bill and is the narrowest, most stringent version of the legislation ever under consideration—narrower even than the legislation Senators Hatch, Cornyn, Kyl, and Grassley supported in 2003.
- The DREAM Act should not advance separately from comprehensive immigration reform. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “The DREAM Act should be part of comprehensive immigration reform.” This is among the most galling of the Republican excuses, as Cornyn and his colleagues bear primary responsibility for blocking comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year. It is the ultimate “bait and switch” tactic for these senators to hold the DREAM Act hostage to comprehensive immigration reform, after holding comprehensive immigration reform hostage the last two years.
While these senators appear content to excuse and bluster their way to “no,” courageous DREAM-eligible youth are not giving up on their chance to become a full part of the only country they call home. From the youth gathered in Washington last week who aspire to join the military to individuals like Ohio honors student Bernard Pastor, who has been in the U.S. since age three and is now in immigration detention following a minor car accident, to the dozen youth in Texas engaged in a hunger strike to demonstrate the seriousness of their convictions, the personal stories of DREAM eligible youth are compelling and heartbreaking.
Said Sharry, “In their actions and aspirations, the DREAM youth are upholding American values – in sharp contrast to Republican senators who continue to play political games. This week, the moment of truth will be upon us, and there will be no more hiding. Senators and Members of Congress will have to declare whether they stand with these students, or not.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.