Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The word is that Hispanic Democrats in Congress are pressing for the passage of the DREAM Act during the lame duck session. The DREAM Act stands for "The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act." It would provide for a pathway for alien children who graduate from a U.S. high school to earn a way to eventual citizenship.

If the Act passes, then an undocumented alien who graduated from a U.S. high school, was brought to the U.S. as a minor, is of good moral character, has been present in the U.S. for five years before the passage of the Act, and who either enlists in the military or completes two years of higher eduction could earn conditional permanent residency.

The DREAM Act is meant to address the inequities that occur when a family brings a minor child into the United States, and raises the child here. Often, such children may not know the language of their home country. The only life they may know is here in the United States. Moreover, undocumented children now face a situation where they cannot qualify for various scholarships and financial aid. Thus, many are trapped in a life without further education.

The DREAM Act was offered as an amendment to a spending bill just before the October recess for the 2010 elections. However, the amendment never came to the floor. Whether the DREAM Act will have an opportunity to face a vote is an open question, since many Republicans will resist such major policy pushes in the waining days of the current Congress.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Do the Elections Mean for Immigration Reform?

I will be the first to admit that I am no geenie. I cannot read the tea leaves and see the future. But, I can give an educated guess on what I think the future of comprehesive immigration reform is based on this year's mid-term elections.

This past Tuesday gave the Republicans a historic victory with a pick-up of about 60 seats in the House of Representatives (as I write this, about 10 races are still not decided). The fact is that Republicans generally draw their support from people who oppose immigration reform. Do not expect any movement from the new Congress on comprehensive immigration reform, then.

But, is that the final answer? The current Congress still has a lame duck session. Many hope Congress will address some of the most pressing issues before it adjourns, such as tax reform. Quite frankly, I don't see this Congress addressing tax reform when the Republicans will be more than happy to take that up in the next Congress when they control the agenda and do not have to compromise with the Democrats.

But, immigration is another story. Realistically, the next two months may be the last chance for comprehensive immigration reform for a long time to come. No one will want to touch it before the 2012 election. The outgoing Speaker, and some of the ousted Democrats may see this as their last hurrah. That is, it may be possible to push immigration reform through with the majorities the Democrats will have until January. Such actions are not unprecedented.

Of course, the Democrats who will be remaining in the House after January may have a differenet point of view. If passing comprehensive immigration reform as a last gasp can be seen as abusive and countrary to the will of the people, those Democrats may be resistant to going along with a push to pass such important legislation before the end of this Congress.

In the end, the answer is simply that if comprehensive immigration reform is to happen, it must happen in the next two months. If it does not pass the lame duck session of Congress, then I believe that there will not be another opportunity to pass it again for a long period of time.