Washington – A group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday presented to Congress a new bill concerning the DREAM Act, which would allow the legalization of undocumented students who arrived in the United States when they were children.
That is how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) explained the bill at a Wednesday press conference where he was accompanied by Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
The DREAM Act has been pushed several times since 2001 without success.
The new attempt to make it law comes on the day after a speech on immigration given by President Barack Obama in El Paso, Texas, in which he urged Congress to approve immigration reform and reaffirmed his commitment to fight for the DREAM Act.
If it is finally passed this time, the law would regularize the immigration status of tens of thousands of undocumented youths who have grown up in the United States.
To obtain legalization of their immigration status, the young people must have been 15 or younger when they arrived in the country, have "good moral character," have graduated from high school and have gone to college or served in the Armed Forces for at least two years.
They will also have to verify that they have lived in the United States continuously for the past five years.
"We should not punish children for their parents' past decisions. The students who would be helped by the DREAM Act did not make the decision to enter this country in an undocumented fashion," Menendez said. "They've followed the rules, worked hard in school and now they want to serve this country in the military or get a higher education."
According to independent studies, the DREAM Act would bring millions of dollars into government coffers and would contribute toward reducing the deficit.
The economy and security are two of the arguments used by Democratic lawmakers and Obama to try and convince the Republican opposition and Democrats who are against the measure to approve it.
In addition, Democratic legislators who are promoting the law are taking pains to emphasize that the measure includes many restrictions designed to prevent possible abuse.
The Senate rejected the DREAM Act last December by a vote of 55-41, with five Democrats voting against the measure.
Reid emphasized in his remarks on Wednesday that the debate on the law is not a "contest between Democrats and Republicans," and he urged the opposition to support a bill that, he said, "the country needs."
During the press conference, the testimony was heard of a young Nigerian immigrant who graduated first in her high school class and who, according to lawmakers, represents just one example of the thousands of children who need the DREAM Act to be able to continue working to achieve their dreams.
However, the future of the bill that on Wednesday was resubmitted in Congress does not seem very promising, according to what several Hispanic organizations told Efe, because the Republicans control the House of Representatives and are clamoring for a harder line against undocumented immigrants.