The controversial DREAM Act—which critics say will leave to in-state tuition for illegal aliens and lead to a major jump in the number of illegal immigrants in the armed forces—will not be coming up for a vote in the Senate this week, sources close to the Senate Republican Leadership assured me. Meanwhile, the White House Press Office made it clear to me that it is not pleased with parts of the measure, which is officially known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and whose official number in the Senate in S. 1545.
DREAM has actually been around since ’03 and its latest version has been introduced by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. According to the National Immigration Law Center, “[i]mmigrant students who have grown up in the U.S., graduated from high school here, and can demonstrate good moral character would initially qualify for ‘condiditonal lawful permanent resident’ status, which would normally last for six years.” During that period, the Law Center notes, “the immigrant would be required to go to college, join the military, or work a significant number of hours of community service. At the end of the conditional period, those who meet at least one of the requirements would be eligible for regular lawful permanent resident status.”
Already, s. 1545 has fifteen co-sponsors from both parties and its House counterpart, HR 1684, has been offered by Rep. Chris Cannon (R.-UT) and has 66 co-sponsors.
But skepticism is mounting that the DREAM Act will short-circuit state laws banning in-state tuition and other benefits for illegal immigrants and, in effect, be the so-called “path to citizenship” for people here illegally. DREAM, for example, would repeal Section 505 of the Ilegal Immigration Reform and Immigant Responsibility Act of 1996, which discourages states from providing in-state tuition and other educational benefits.
“We have opposed efforts that lead to an automatic path to citizenship,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott Stanzel told me last night. Recalling the unsuccessful Administration fight behind the comprehensive immigration package that died in the Senate earlier this year, Stanzel said “We worked with numerous senators, including Senator Durbin and Republican senators, on alternatives [to the automatic path to citizenship] that was consistent with comprehensive immigration reform that put border security first.
“This is not the language Senator Durbin is proposing now.”
Stanzel emphasized that “the Administration continue to support comprehensive reform that starts with strong border security and we don’t believe in incremental changes added to unrelated bills is the right way to set immigration policy.”
Was this tantamount to threatening a veto if DREAM were passed? Replied Stanzel: “You’re asking me about something that hasn’t come to the floor yet and we don’t comment about legislation that has not yet come to the floor.”