Washington, DC – Today, the Obama Administration is announcing a bold move to protect an estimated 800,000 undocumented young people. According to the Associated Press, “Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are [30 and younger], have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods.”
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
“This is huge. As a result of today’s decision, hundreds of thousands of young people who are American in all but paperwork will have the opportunity to live freely, work legally, and contribute to the country they love. The President is right to step up and protect these young people, because this expansion of existing policy is the only viable path to meaningful relief for Dreamers this year.
“The DREAM Act started over 10 years ago as a bipartisan common sense bill. Over the years, Republicans who supported it in the past, including original co-sponsor Orrin Hatch (R-UT), have become opponents as the Republican Party has lurched to the right. And despite efforts by some in the GOP, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), to reposition the GOP on the issue, House Republicans have made it clear that any version of DREAM would not pass the House this year.
“We salute the President and his team for this bold move to make sure our immigration system includes rather than deports young people who have done everything right and nothing wrong, and only want to contribute to the country they call home.”
Below is a collection of relevant information on the DREAM Act, including an assessment of why President Obama has the necessary legal authority to provide executive relief, as he did today, and analysis of the lack of a viable legislative path forward in Congress for the DREAM Act or Republican-authored alternatives such as Senator Rubio’s impending bill.
- Memo from nearly 100 law professors noting the legal authority of the President to grant executive relief: http://unitedwedream.org/2012/
- House Republicans Already Indicated That a Legislative Path Forward Was Not Viable: Rep. Steve King told Fox News Latino this week, “They would have a hard time getting [the bills] through the [House] Judiciary Committee,” noting that Rep. Lamar Smith chairs the committee and also is adamantly opposed to even watered-down versions of the DREAM Act, such as Senator Marco Rubio’s impending DREAM Act alternative. Additionally, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) already dismissed the Rubio plan, saying, “the problem with this issue is we’re operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this I think it would be difficult at best.” Even Representative Francisco “Quico” Canseco told Telemundo that “there is no support in the House, right now.”
- The DREAM Act Vote in 2010 – Those who will try to place failures of the DREAM Act passage in 2010 at the feet of both parties – or who will claim that both parties expressed opposition to the legislation – don’t have facts on their side. Democrats were adamantly in favor of the legislation, while Republicans were adamantly opposed:
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the DREAM Act passed by a 216-198 margin
- House Republicans voted against the DREAM Act by a 160-8 vote margin
- House Democrats voted for the DREAM Act by a 208-38 vote margin
- 96% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Democrats
- 4% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Republicans
The DREAM Act also won majority support in the Senate, but it failed to win the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster on the measure and the bill died. The final vote tally was 55-41
- Republican Senators voted against the DREAM Act by a 36-3 vote margin
- Democratic Senators voted for the DREAM Act by a 52-5 margin (with 1 Democratic senator not voting)
- 95% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Democrats (including Independents who caucus with the Democrats)
- 5% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Republicans
- 10 sitting Republican Senators who had voted for some version of the DREAM Act in the past opposed the bill in 2010
America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.