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Re-introduction of DREAM Act garners applause, hope and deja vu

LatinaLista — First came the White House immigration meetings with their star-studded, business powerhouse invitees; then came the policy speech on immigration reform in El Paso yesterday where President Obama repeated to the nation what he’s been saying privately at those White House meetings.

abc_pol_dream_101218_wg.jpgNow, comes a concrete piece of action that immigrant advocates and supporters have long asked for as proof if this administration was serious about pursuing immigration reform.

Senators Dick Durbin and Robert Menendez, two of the 30+ senators that reintroduced the DREAM Act today in the U.S. Senate.

While the request was for the President to use his executive powers to stop the punitive enforcement resulting in the separation of families, whose only crime is that they are living here illegally, what happened today could be looked at as being the third best thing.

Today, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and 30 other Senators re-introduced in the Senate the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, otherwise known as the DREAM Act.

A similar bill was introduced today in the House of Representatives by Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).

The DREAM Act has long been seen as the one element of the broader comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill that could actually garner bipartisan support. After all, it’s about kids and their future and the future of this country.

Though the DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate back at Christmas, it did pass the House and there were a few Republicans (mainly Latinos) who bucked their party to do what was right by these kids.

Now, under pressure to do something about immigration reform, it seems as the Democratic Party is going to choose the one element of CIR that actually has better odds than any other part of CIR — and it feels like deja vu.

Given the President’s policy speech, it’s clear that he is calling on the Latino community to hit the phones and keyboards to get Republicans to “come to the table” on this issue. And the community will deliver — though the loss in the Senate is still a freshly bitter memory — no one can afford to give up on these kids who are continuing to put themselves at risk by publicly exposing their status and getting arrested at sit-ins.

So what does re-introducing this bill really mean?

Max Gleischman, Sen. Durbin’s press secretary, told Latina Lista that this is the first necessary step for the bill to be addressed in Congress. Work to get this bill passed will go on till the end of the 112th Congress which ends December 2012.

Paola Amador Menendez, Sen. Robert Menendez’s press contact, added that the bill now goes to the Judiciary Committee.

How long it floats around Congress before it’s debated on the floor is anyone’s guess but it’s there and this time the bill serves as a battle cry, rather than a calling card, that the Latino community is a political force gaining strength.

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