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Undocumented aliens get a ringside seat in the Senate, a few feet from the nation's top immigration enforcement official, Janet Napolitano, with no fear of deportation.

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Illegal Aliens Step Boldly Out of the Shadows at DREAM Hearing

Undocumented aliens get a ringside seat in the Senate, a few feet from the nation’s top immigration enforcement official, Janet Napolitano, with no fear of deportation.

[Editor’s note: Video of the hearing is below.]

It’s not unusual for politicians on Capitol Hill to recognize citizens during hearings on legislation that would have a positive or negative impact on their lives.

But that tactic took a different turn this week when hundreds of illegal immigrants filled the largest hearing room in the Senate to openly participate in the proceedings.

And they did so without threat of arrest from the nation’s chief immigration law enforcement official who was sitting in the front row: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Many of the illegal immigrants were recognized by name by Sen. Dick Durbin (D. –Ill.) who led the panel, and commended by Obama administration officials who want to give them legal status under sweeping legislation called the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act would give permanent legal status to illegal immigrants, up to age 35, who arrived in the United States before age 16, provided they complete two years of college or serve two years in the military.

 “The young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act call themselves dreamers,” Durbin said. “Over the years, I have met hundreds of these dreamers, and hundreds of them are here today,” Durbin continued.

Durbin introduced about a half dozen of the illegal immigrants by name and asked them to stand, as he told their story of how they were brought into the country illegally by their parents. Although they had attended U.S. schools, Durbin said they
could either not get jobs or faced problems pursing higher education because of their illegal status.

“Let me ask everyone here today who is a DREAM Act student to stand and be recognized,” Durbin said.

Nearly everyone in the audience stood.

“Thank you so much for being here,” Durbin said.

Just 24 hours before the hearing was scheduled to convene in the rather small hearing room of the Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building which seats about 100 people, Republican staffers were notified that Democrats had moved the proceeding to room 216 of the Hart Building.

Better known as the “media room,” that hearing hall can seat 300 to 400 and is typically reserved for large gatherings, like confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices.

Napolitano told this subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee that although the large group gathered was part of the population that is subject to deportation, there would be no enforcement of the law that morning.

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Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events‚?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey‚??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co

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