This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
The DREAM Act is back—Harry Reid is pushing for the Senate to vote on it as a stand-alone bill after the Thanksgiving recess.
Let’s recap: the DREAM (short for Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors) Act could provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants under 35 who came here before they were 16 years old, if they complete two years of college or serve at least two years in the military.
According to recent polling, 70 percent of Americans are in favor of passing the bill. The ACLU LA reports [PDF] that passing the DREAM Act will generate $3.6 trillion for the U.S. economy over the next forty years. The Secretaries of Defense and Education are both strong supporters of the bill.
In a White House conference call yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reaffirmed his support for the bill.
“We have so many young people who’ve done everything right,” Duncan says. “They’ve gone to school every single day, they’ve gotten good grades, they’ve played by the rules, and then the chance of going to college was denied to them. That’s absolutely unfair to those children.”
Some wonder why the DREAM Act would have a better shot at passing in the Senate now, especially because a version of the bill that was tied to defense spending was shot down in late September. Duncan responds to such critics that this is a good bill and the election is over, so some of the political pressure is off.
“You have an opportunity that can help children and strengthen the economy,” he says. “Post election, there’s a chance to get some work done. It’s a good a time as any to make progress here.”
The bill may have come back into existence through bipartisan compromise, but it has been kicking around Congress for nearly a decade.
Meanwhile, many Republicans are caving to constituencies that have become more hard-line on immigration. Some say that DREAM is the first step on the road to “amnesty.” Two former Republican co-sponsors of the bill, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are now opposing the measure—though McCain is still kind of a wild card.