A day after President Barack Obama tried to kick-start immigration reform with a speech in El Paso, Texas, Senate Democratic leaders reintroduced the DREAM Act — but without much more than “faith” that this time Republicans won’t block it.
Joined by a Nigerian immigrant with a chemical engineering degree who could get citizenship under the bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on Republicans who have backed immigration reform in the past to back the legislation, which has support from the Defense Department, business groups and advocates for immigrants.
“I believe there are people of goodwill on the Republican side of the aisle, especially some who in the past have been advocates for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform who will join with us,” Reid said. “I am someone who maintains the faith. Just like the dreamers have faith things are going to change.”
The DREAM Act would give immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 16 and have been in the country for more than five years a path to citizenship if they go to college or serve in the military.
Though Reid said he will bring the DREAM Act to the floor, he didn’t offer a timetable. “We need the people of America to rise up,” he said.
The DREAM Act passed the House and came close to beating back a Senate GOP filibuster in December, but since then Democratic ranks have diminished and most House Republicans oppose it.
House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith said Wednesday that the DREAM Act would encourage more illegal immigration and let illegal immigrants take jobs that should be going to Americans.
“Congress is supposed to act on behalf of the American people, not illegal immigrants,” the Texas Republican said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.