Sen. Richard Durbin. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty)
Three Democratic senators are proposing to grant the wish of many undocumented immigrants—the chance to legally stay in the U.S.
With the backing of 30 of their colleagues, Sens. Richard Durbin (Illinois), Harry Reid (Nevada) and Robert Menendez (New Jersey) re-introduced the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, legislation that would allow young undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status if they join the military or attend college for two years. Last year President Obama pushed very hard to pass an earlier version of the bill, but despite his efforts, the legislation did not receive the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, and consequently many dreams were killed.
As the 2012 presidential elections draw nearer each day, Obama is likely using the re-introduction of the bill as an opportunity to try to gain the support of many Latinos again. Earlier this week, he traveled to the border city of El Paso, Texas, where he spoke of hope and fixing the “broken immigration system.” “Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families,” he said.
African-American ministers have thrown their support behind the bill as well. “As people of faith, we cannot stand by while young people are treated like criminals for nothing more than hard work and a desire to be part of the country they know and love,” Leslie Watson Malachi, director of African-American Ministers in Action said in a statement. Malachi heads an alliance of over 700 African-American clergy supporting social justice and civil rights initiatives.
Each year around 65,000 undocumented students, who are usually brought to the country by their parents at a very young age, graduate from high school. Despite their accomplishments, their futures are very bleak and the opportunity to achieve the “American Dream” is almost non-existent.