LatinaLista.net — In the upcoming Americas Quarterly Winter 2011 issue, the magazine sits down with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss the political destiny of the DREAM Act, the nation’s relationship with her southern neighbors and the importance of the Latino vote for both parties.
In an exclusive offer to Latina Lista, America’s Quarterly shares the interview with Sen. Reid before it is posted on their website on Wednesday, January 26.
Americas Quarterly: In your reelection campaign, you spoke about the need to pass the Dream Act and its pathway to authorized status for the children of undocumented immigrants to attend college or to serve in the military. Why?
Senator Reid: We cannot continue to kick the immigration problem down the road. We tried twice last year  to pass the Dream Act as a stepping stone
toward comprehensive immigration reform.
We started with the Dream Act in part because it is a measure that is bipartisan in origin (co-authored by Orrin Hatch, R-UT), and many Republicans in the last Senate had voted for it before. Unfortunately, when we presented it again at the end of 2010, all but three Republicans opposed it.
The Dream Act would have reduced our budget deficit, made our nation safer, and given the opportunity of a future to tens of thousands of deserving young people who want to go to college or serve their nation in the military That is why we needed to pass the Dream Act as soon as possible.
AQ: How does the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a smaller Democratic majority in the Senate affect your strategy to
pass comprehensive immigration reform?
Reid: My goal is still to pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, punishes employers who exploit immigrant labor and undercut American wages, and requires those living in the shadows to register with the government, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, and then go to the back of the line.
My hope is that the Republicans will work with us on a comprehensive approach that addresses the many complex components necessary to fix our broken system.
AQ: Looking at the new Congress, what will be the policy priorities for strengthening the U.S. relationship with Latin America?
Reid: I have traveled extensively in the region. My first two foreign
trips as Majority Leader were to Latin America because I believed we needed to refocus on our neighborhood. It is precisely because we share strong cultural and economic ties with the region that Latin America should be a natural priority for us.