THE FOLLOWING IS UDALL'S LETTER DEFENDING THE DREAM ACT.
November 23, 2010
Dear Mr. Rodgers,
Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 729, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2009. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
Currently, there are thousands of children of undocumented immigrants who seek higher education or wish to join the military after graduating from a U.S. high school.
This year, there will be about 65,000 high school graduates, who, despite their academic accomplishments and strong motivation to succeed, will have to seek alternate routes to achieving success in America. Many believe that providing additional training to these kids will help our overall economy, the individual seeking to improve his or her life, and improve military recruitment and retention.
S. 729 would amend current law to allow children of parents who entered the country illegally to qualify for higher education benefits based on state residence. Additionally, S. 729 would allow certain undocumented immigrants the opportunity to serve in the U.S. Military legally, which could dramatically increase the pool of highly qualified recruits for the U.S. Armed Forces.
Only individuals who entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday, are currently under the age of thirty-five, and have been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of the bill would be eligible for these benefits. In addition, these individuals must also be of "good moral character," and must have earned a high school or equivalent diploma, or been accepted to an institution of higher education. After completing all of these requirements, those who remain in good legal and moral standing after finishing two years of higher education or military service, will earn the chance to obtain legal status as U.S. citizens.
Senator Richard Durbin (IL) introduced the DREAM Act on March 26, 2009. After introduction, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
As you may be aware, Senator Harry Reid (NV) planned to offer the DREAM Act as an amendment to S. 3454, the fiscal year 2011 (FY11) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). However, on September 21, 2010, despite strong support from the Armed Forces and many civic and religious groups, Senate Republicans unified in their opposition, and S.3454 failed by a vote of 56-43 to gain the 60 votes necessary to allow the Senate to debate the measure. I voted to proceed to the measure because the NDAA provides the necessary and critical funding for equipment and resources for our service members currently in harm's way. Giving our men and women in uniform, the resources that they need to continue their important work is a priority of mine, and I am disappointed that this funding is being tied up by partisan politics.
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this or related legislation come before the Senate for consideration.