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Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis Speaks On The Dream Act Senate Vote

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December 21, 2010 - The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (the DREAM Act) is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that was first introduced in the United States Senate on August 1, 2001 and most recently re-introduced there and the United States House of Representatives on March 26, 2009.  

The DREAM Act, along with a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2011. On September 21, 2010, the Senate filibuster of the bill was maintained in a 56-43 vote.

It would have taken 60 votes to stop the filibuster and continue the progress of the bill. The following day, Durbin introduced the bill once again along with Richard Lugar. Only two senators cosponsored the bill and it was defeated again. 

 

This bill would provide certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously and illegally for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning.

The students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have "acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor's degree or higher degree in the United States," or have "served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge." 

Military enlistment contracts require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years. "Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act." Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis made the following remarks in response to the Senate vote on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or Dream, Act

"A tremendous opportunity has been lost in America. In an immensely disheartening vote, a handful of U.S. senators have chosen to shut the door on the hopes and dreams of millions of young people — our nation's future. The Dream Act is good, bipartisan legislation that would have strengthened our economy, our workforce and our national security. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has even reported that the Dream Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. But more importantly, it would have tapped the potential of more than 700,000 young people, allowing some of our nation's brightest a fighting chance at a better future.

 

"President Obama has long said that the Dream Act is not only the right thing to do for hardworking young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own; it is the right thing for the United States of America. And as the proud daughter of immigrant parents, I agree. I stand strong with the Latino community, all of this nation's immigrants and fair-minded people all over this country, knowing that this administration acted aggressively at every level in support of this bill. 

 
   

"Three Republicans supported the Dream Act. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Lugar (Indiana) and Robert Bennett (Utah) should be applauded for doing the right thing by voting for this bill. It is truly a shame that many of their colleagues didn't have the courage to follow suit.  

"The American people deserve a serious debate on immigration. I agree with the president that Americans don't expect Washington to solve their problems, but they rightfully expect their government to work for them, not against them. Saturday's vote only renews this administration's commitment to continue to fight for all Americans."

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