Killing the DREAM

The Senate shunned a bill that looked to provide a path to education and citizenship.

The Senate shotgunned a test vote for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act last week, and laid to rest the dreams of thousands of young immigrants hoping for a chance at higher education and citizenship. The bill needed 60 votes to override a filibuster, but it had only 52. The snuffed bill continues a disappointing year of failed immigration reform and seems to shout loud and clear the government’s message to young, promising Americans with illegal immigrant parents: Your dreams and ambitions aren’t good here.

The bipartisan DREAM Act is a small piece of a much larger and complicated immigration reform bill that failed to pass this summer. The bill applies to children of illegal immigrants who were brought to the country five years ago when they were 16 years old or younger. The bill would offer those who have graduated high school a path to citizenship by going to college or doing two years of military service.

Naysayers claim the bill would open the flood gates of “backdoor amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants who wish to stay in the country. This is nonsense. The bill would simply apply to innocent children who are being punished for a decision their parents made in coming to America. Other students might have spent their whole lives in the country and know no other home. The bill would provide bright immigrant students the chance to continue their education and give back to our country, providing relief from a life of dead-end jobs and living in the shadows.

Democratic critics in the Senate claim that the bill is too narrow, and they didn’t want to reopen immigration policy. While more comprehensive reform is necessary, passing a more specific bill to protect the small sample of immigrant high school graduates would be a good step in recognizing that not all illegal immigrants are undermining our national security and identity. Not all immigrants should be placed in the same boat, as circumstance plays heavily into their situations. The bill would protect some 65,000 capable students trapped in a sea of paper work and bureaucracy who wish to further their education or fight for their country.

The DREAM Act looked to gain ground on immigration problems and give a chance to these students left in limbo. It seems as though the dreams of these students will have to wait for another day, and another Senate.