Napolitano, Obama and the Congressional Budget favor the DREAM becoming a reality

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Almost a decade after it was first introduced, the DREAM Act, a bill that, if passed, would give young undocumented adults who came to the U.S. as children and have lived here for an extended period of time and fulfilled certain criteria, a chance towards citizenship, is in the running to be passed once again.

In an effort to bring the DREAM Act up for a vote before the Senate while the Democrats still have a majority, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Richard Durbin filed a new version of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act late night on Tuesday, November 30th. This new version of the DREAM Act,  S.3992, contains revisions to some key points that immigration restrictionists have had issue with in the past, in the hope that the revised version will address these issues and win the support of moderate lawmakers from both parties. An article in the Politico outlines some of these changes-

The latest version…would bar illegal immigrants from receiving in-state college tuition; drops the age of eligibility to 29 from 34; would not grant permanent legal status to anyone for at least 10 years; would restrict eligibility for those who commit certain misdemeanor crimes; and would limit individuals from being able to sponsor family members for U.S. citizenship, among other changes.

While there has been a mixed response to this conservative version of the DREAM Act, it is clear that the major compromises it offers are designed to win the 60 votes necessary to get it passed when it comes up for a vote. According to Jenny Werwa, the outreach and communications manager with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the passage of this particular iteration of the DREAM Act bill would be a political “win” for immigrants rights advocates-

If they’ve put together this to create a new version, they must think they are going to get votes out of it. So for me, I’m optimistic about that, in terms of politically pushing the ball forward.

Since the first signs began to emerge that Sen. Reid would make good on his election campaign promise to introduce the DREAM Act before the end of the lame-duck session of Congress, a wide variety of people have spoken out in the support of the DREAM Act.

The first major move of support came from the White House, when President Obama, who has always been a supporter of the DREAM Act but has never publicly committed his support, told Democrats that he wanted it approved before the end of the 111th session of Congress. Moreover, he put forth a commitment to work “hand in glove” to ensure that the bill is passed, including a promise to call Senators himself, urging them to vote to pass the bill. Following this important avowal of support, the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan has also been advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act in a number of public appearances. Speaking to the New York Times last Monday, Mr. Duncan said-

I think we are fundamentally wrong on this as a nation. (Undocumented students) have played by all the rules, gone to school, worked hard, full attendance. Then they graduate and the doors of opportunity basically slam shut.

Hundreds of educational institutions and educators from around the country think that the thousands of young adults who were brought here as children, and have been through the school system and want to make something of their lives should be given a chance. They too have extended their support of the DREAM Act.

An extremely important public statement in favor of the DREAM Act came from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano who said that the implementation of the DREAM Act would actually help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforce immigration law more effectively. Speaking on Thursday at a conference call with the White House, Napolitano urged Republican lawmakers to see the DREAM Act as a complement to enforcement rather than an “amnesty” bill for undocumented immigrants. Emphasizing the DREAM Act’s relationship to smart enforcement, she said-

From where I sit I think it’s important to point out that it fits into a larger strategy of immigration enforcement and complements the Department of Homeland Security plan to prioritize enforcement resources to remove dangerous criminal aliens from the country…The DREAM Act is one thing that Congress can do right now to help the Department of Homeland Security do its job of enforcing immigration laws in the way that makes the most sense for public safety for our national security.

In addition to the thousands of advocates and young people who have taken part in rallies, sit-ins, protests and hunger strikes in all corners of the country, hoping to urge Members of Congress to vote in support of the bill, inter-faiths religious leaders have also raised their voices in support of all the young people who stand to benefit from the DREAM. On Tuesday, leaders from the Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths banded together for a coordinated day of action, calling on Congressional leaders to pass the DREAM Act.

An important point in favor of the DREAM Act came from the Congressional Budget Office who released the long-awaited cost estimate of S. 3992, the latest version of the DREAM Act. Their findings showed that putting thousands of well educated, young, undocumented immigrants on the path to legalization would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over ten years.

Despite the numerous factions and argument in support of the DREAM Act, and the fact that a recent poll conducted throughout the country by First Focus found that 70% of adults were in favor of passing the bill, a number of Republican lawmakers are reluctant to get behind it. Although the DREAM Act has always enjoyed an element of bipartisan support, even those Republicans who supported the DREAM Act in previous years, have now rescinded their support. Jon Kyl (Arizona), John Cornyn (Texas), Bob Bennett (Utah), Sam Brownback (Kansas), Susan Collins (Maine), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), and John McCain (Arizona) are some of the Republican Members of Congress who supported the DREAM Act in the past.

The DREAM Act might come up for a vote early next week, and with it, the lives and dreams of about 2.1 million young people in the United States could change for the better. Take action NOW by calling your Members of Congress and urging them to vote for the DREAM!

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Harry Reid's Future (And Michael "Fried Chicken" Steele's Double Standard)

Harry Reid’s not going anywhere – at least not before the midterms.

The Senate Majority Leader is in a bit of trouble for racially insensitive remarks he made during the 2008 campaign that have just now been made public. Reid said that Obama would win despite his race because he is “light-skinned” and speaks “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” The GOP reaction is exactly what you would expect:

In an interview with POLITICO, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said it would be "entirely appropriate" for the Nevada Democrat to relinquish his leadership post over comments about Barack Obama's skin color and lack of a "Negro dialect."

And like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl — both of whom also called for Reid's resignation Sunday — Cornyn suggested that any Republican who said what Reid said would be under attack from Democrats, leading African-Americans and the media.

“There’s a big double standard here,” Steele said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What’s interesting here, is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough. If that had been [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the [Democratic National Committee] would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.”

Steele added that "There has to be a consequence here if the standard is the one set in 2002 with Trent Lott.” That's a big if, my friend.

There are three obvious reasons why Reid won’t resign as Majority Leader despite Lott's precedent. First, Lott had a history of racial insensitivity; Reid has no such thing. Gaffes are usually only an issue when they reinforce an existing image, and while the southern senator had an already-spotty history on racial issues, the boxer from Searchlight doesn’t have that problem.

Second, Lott was speaking about policy whereas Reid was analyzing the country’s electoral abilities (and may well have been right). That doesn’t excuse his language - the word “negro” is quite historical anachronism, and he was right to apologize – but as much as rhetoric does matter, we’re not exactly talking deep substance here.

Finally, Lott lacked the support of the President, a President from his own party, but Barack Obama has made it clear that he continues to back Reid (as do both Al Sharpton and Rep. James Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in Congress. And seriously, if even Al Sharpton doesn't find something overly offensive, isn't the discussion kind of over?).

Forget Trent Lott. The real double standard here is that Michael “I got the fried chicken” Steele, he of the “honest Injun” remarks, gets to get away with criticizing Reid over the whole affair.

Of course, this isn’t the only important Harry Reid story out this weekend. He’s not going anywhere before the midterms, but a new poll shows that the Majority Leader’s November woes continue to deepen. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid’s favorable-unfavorable is now 33-52, down from December’s 49-38. His three potential Repub opponents lead him by margins of 10, 8, and 5, with all three gaining well over 50% of Independent votes. Worst of all, this poll was taken before the "negro" quote was made public. It is for this reason – electoral math, not racial insensitivity – that even Markos is now calling for Reid to resign his leadership position and retire from the Senate. Not going to happen, but certainly troubling for the Majority Leader.

Senators Kyl, Sessions don't know if Sotomayor is a racist

On the Sunday morning shows, Senators Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions did their best to dance through the minefield laid by the titular leaders of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. People of decency and character wouldn't have to dodge anything, but these two senators have to be careful not to offend the substantial number of bigots in the GOP base, while avoiding any quotable race-baiting.

The tactic was obvious and they would have been called out on it if there had been a competent journalist in the room. Both Republican senators were asked if they believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist and they both refused to give a straightforward answer.

There's more...

Jon Kyl's Fears of Evidence-Based Healthcare

Earlier this morning, Senate Republicans took steps towards filibustering the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services despite the fact that they very likely do not have the votes. I have already explained how I don't entirely understand the logic behind the move. But now I have stumbled upon another aspect of Republican opposition to the Sebelius nomination I really don't understand.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) opposes Sebelius because of the Obama administration's support for research on the comparative effectiveness of disease treatments. He said he fears the evidence-based approach, coupled with information on price, could lead to rationing of care.

I have to admit that I'm not an expert on healthcare. But it's hard for me to see how, either on a policy level or a political one, studying the comparative effectiveness of various medical treatments would be a bad thing for anyone outside of those advocating for or profiting from treatments that don't work.

How could figuring out which treatments work and which ones don't be a bad thing? On an individual level, wouldn't Americans like to know that when they see their doctors they are receiving the best care possible? And on a broader level, couldn't we more effectively treat the nation's ills and diseases if we had a stronger idea about what actually works rather than simply throwing money at problems? Am I missing something?

Update [2009-4-23 13:30:24 by Jonathan Singer]: Here are a couple of posts from Ezra that get into this more.

There's more...

Some factual information on today's Iran vote

There's been a lot of discussion of today's vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment concerning Iran.  Some people think it's no big deal, some people think it's equivalent to another war vote.

I don't expect to resolve these disagreements but I do want to provide some factual information regarding what the amendment actually means.  In particular, a lot of people seem to be wondering what exactly it means for the Senate to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "terrorist organization." Does it mean we can bomb them, does it mean Republicans can run ads putting their pictures next to pictures of Democratic candidates, what's the actual legal effect?

I wanted to write this diary to answer some of those questions, for people interested in details.  If you simply care about whether Clinton sucks or Obama sucks or Edwards sucks, this might not be the diary for you.

There's more...

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