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!

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Rick Perry Wins TX-Gov Republican Primary

In 2006, Rick Perry won re-election as Governor of Texas with just 39% of the vote in a four-way race. A February PPP poll found that almost four years later, his approval rating is just 33% and his disapproval 50%. With numbers like that, one wonders how he can possibly win re-election in 2010. And yet, Governor Good Hair will once again be the Republican nominee this fall. That's bad for Texas since it means the worst candidate has the best chance, but good for Democrats since it means his win isn't a lock.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, once the state's most popular Republican, has conceded to Gov. Perry in today's gubernatorial primary. With 51% of precincts reporting, Perry has 52.77% of the vote to Hutchison's 30.99%. In a surprising twist, tea party/truther candidate Deb Medina has a full 17.57% of the vote, not fading in the stretch the way most third party candidates (think New Jersey's Chris Daggett) do.

Perry's win is probably good news for Democrats, even though I was originally hoping Hutchison would win. She'd be a much better Governor than the power hungry Perry and would leave us with an open Senate seat. That may, however, still be the case, given that she said she would resign her seat win-or-lose. One wonders if she'll keep that promise, but either way, with numbers like Perry's this does create a chance to win the Texas Governorship. It's the Lt. Gov. with the real power in the state - at least, it is Constitutionally, and it was in reality before Perry - but a win would still carry huge symbolic value, especially coming in the political climate of 2010. And in the aforementioned February PPP poll, Perry only beat Democrat and former Houston Mayor Bill White 48-42. Bill White will be a very formidable candidate for us, probably the best we've had for state-wide office since the late Bob Bullock. Texas Monthly had a great article in December on White's heroic response to Hurricane Katrina and his standing in the state:

"He has instilled confidence, and he has gotten people to trust him to such a degree that people have this feeling that the city is in great shape because Bill White has been taking care of it for six years," says Nancy Sims,a long time observer of Houston politics who writes a popular political blog, "There is really not a group of people that you can find that, as a whole, hate Bill White, which is a rare thing to say about a mayor." Says Craig Varoga, a national political consultant who has worked extensively in Houston: "Even people who are unhappy or dissatisfied because of their particular issues will say that they think he has done a good job overall. A lot of that is rooted in Katrina, which was the perfect confluence of reality and politics."

He has done it with a complex and ambitious plan that few mayors anywhere would have attempted. Against the advice of his friend, former mayor Bob Lanier, White has not cherry-picked a few prominent urban problems to solve. He has instead taken on more than a dozen major issues, many of which carried considerable political risk. He banned, for all practical purposes, lobbyists from city hall and from any involvement in city contracts, thereby cleaning up what many had come to call "the trough." He took on the city's legendary traffic jams and, in a series of programs, untangled some of them and sped up commuting times. He reduced the city's property tax rate five years out of six; shored up the city's wobbly pension system; reduced the City of Houston's energy consumption by 6 percent, making Houston one of the greenest cities in the country; took on petrochemical companies over air pollution; added parks and libraries; cleaned up decaying neighborhoods and built affordable housing; revamped a badly managed police department, resulting in the city's lowest crime level in decades; and signed new contracts with firefighters giving them 38 percent raises, the first salary increase in six years.

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In the Aftermath of the Massachusetts Senate Results

What Democrats have been doing this year in Washington, D.C. isn't working. The voters of Massachusetts made that abundantly clear last night by electing a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate.

It's clear we haven't been picking the right candidates. The mood of the electorate is angry and frightened. We desperately need candidates that can address voters' very real concerns head on, not endlessly repeat the talking points coming out of Washington, D.C.

In Texas, we've got John Sharp running for U.S. Senate. And despite the set back last night, Sharp's candidacy represents a very real opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat in Texas.


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Kay Bailey Hutchison Running for Governor

It hasn't been much of a secret in political circles, but Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is running for Governor:

I am running for Governor because Texas must prepare for the future. I am running because I believe it is conservative to demand results and hold government accountable - with integrity and responsibility.

It's presumed that Hutchison will resign the Senate at some point during her gubernatorial run. The logic behind such a move seems crystal clear: her votes today have the potential to hurt her tomorrow. To take one example, if she votes to filibuster Sonia Sotomayor, she has the potential to ingratiate herself with the Republican base in Texas, whom she needs to win over in order to wrest her party's nomination from the incumbent GOP Governor Rick Perry, but she also has the very real potential of turning off Hispanic voters, who very well could determine whether she can win a general election. Flip that vote around and you get the opposite situation -- a less happy base but a slightly better shot in November (if, and that's a big if, she can get through a primary).

The same can be said about any number of other issues before the Senate these days. Running in a contested primary for Governor from the Senate places a candidate like Hutchison between a rock and a hard place. How she could succeed without leaving the chamber -- thus opening up a potential Democratic pick-up in an ensuing special election -- is beyond me.

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TX SEN: White's Republican Ties Disturbing In Context Of Texas Voter ID Debate

Fronted by Jerome.

As Democrats in the Texas House worked all weekend and through the early part of the week chubbing to death a voter identification bill that would disenfranchise millions of Texans and has rapidly become the civil rights battle of the decade in the state, one might wonder where the Lone Star State's two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate stand on the controversial issue.

The reality is very illuminating.

Earlier this year, appearing before a Texans for Obama meetup in Austin, Houston Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Bill White was asked about voter identification. According to folks who were present, White didn't say he was for voter identification, but, basically gave a blase answer that he didn't think it would impede turnout beyond a small amount.

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