The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls (202) 261-2388

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds First-Ever Hearing on the DREAM Act


Tomorrow, Assistant Senate Majority Leader U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will chair the first-ever U.S. Senate hearing on the DREAM Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security. The DREAM Act, first introduced in 2001 by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), is a common sense proposal that offers talented young people who came to the United States as minors a chance to earn legal status and a path to citizenship - if they meet a set of stringent criteria and attend college or enroll in the U.S. military. In the 111th Congress, the DREAM Act fell just five votes short of becoming law, having passed the House with bipartisan support and winning 55 votes in the Senate. In the 112th Congress, the DREAM Act has been introduced by a bi-partisan group of Representatives in the House and by Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

The DREAM Act has been introduced on a bipartisan basis for ten years and has consistently enjoyed overwhelming public support. The bill is favored by nearly 70 percent of voters, according to a poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for First Focus in June 2010. A November 2010 poll from Lake Research Partners showed similarly high levels of support. Not surprisingly, the issue is particularly salient with Latino voters. According to a June 2011 poll of Latino voters by Latino Decisions and impreMedia immigration reform/DREAM Act comes in as their number one priority - ahead of economy/jobs. The DREAM Act has been championed by religious, business, education and civil rights leaders, as well as military leaders and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who recognize the benefits of recruiting talented young people who are eager to serve.

Although Republicans in the Senate led a filibuster last year that blocked the DREAM Act from becoming law, advocates and supporters are hopeful that enough Republicans will soon recognize the contributions and talents of this group of young people, and give them the opportunity to earn legal status in the only country they know as home.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice Education Fund, said, "Millions of Latinos watched on live television last year as all but three Republican Senators voted against the Hispanic community's best and brightest young people, further eroding their already dismal standing with this growing group of voters. The DREAM Act was once championed by Congressional Republicans but you would hardly know it today. With this hearing, Senator Durbin and his Democratic colleagues are once again laying out the many compelling reasons to support DREAM and presenting Republicans with yet another opportunity to come to their senses. We sincerely hope enough of the 12 Republicans currently serving in the Senate who have voted for some version of the DREAM Act in the past come home and join with Democrats to make the DREAM Act a reality this year."