The federal DREAM Act had its first-ever Senate hearing today, ten years after the bill was first introduced. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), who originally introduced the act over a decade ago, chaired the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
The version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act being discussed is a slightly different version from the one passed by the House in 2010. It raises the age limit for eligible immigrants to 35 and reduces the amount of time applicants can spend in conditional legal status before obtaining permanent legal status to six years from 10 years.
Among those in attendance at the hearing was Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who revealed his undocumented status in a first-person essay in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Witnesses at the hearing included Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; high achieving DREAM student accepted to the University of Michigan, Ola Kaso, (who was recently granted “deferred action” after facing deportation); and Steven Camarota, director of research for the conservative think tank, Center for Immigration Studies, .
Listen to reporters Aswini Anburajan and Valeria Fernandez discuss the push for state level DREAM Acts and youth organizing strategies on the Fi2W podcast.