DALLAS – A local Hispanic Republican group has voiced their support for passage of the DREAM Act, which could make U.S. citizenship possible for millions of undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.
Jason Villalba, chairman of the Dallas branch of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, issued a statement affirming the group’s support for “reasonable and serious immigration reform, including, but not limited to, the DREAM Act.” The proposed legislation, in principle, would make U.S. citizenship possible for undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who have been in the United States for more than five years, were brought here before they turned 16, completed high school, and are either certified to attend college or serve in the military.
Most Democrats support the measure, but some Republicans oppose it. Villalba disagrees with arguments that the DREAM Act is “back door” amnesty. “If someone is brought into the United States before they had an opportunity to personally make that decision, and if such person becomes a contributing member to our great citizenry (and economy) as a college graduate or if such person risks their life in the protection of our freedom as a member of our armed forces, then, in most circumstances, I believe that person has earned the right to be a United States Citizen,” he said in a statement issued Monday.
On Tuesday (September 21), efforts by Democrats to attach the DREAM Act to a defense appropriations bill failed, with Republicans accusing Democrats of using the opportunity to stage a political stunt in an effort to win Hispanic votes weeks before the mid-term elections. “Our friends on the other side are playing politics with some very serious issues that directly affect the Hispanic Community,” Villalba said.
Many Republicans also voted against the measure in full not because of the DREAM Act, but because the bill also repealed the ban on gays in the military. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who initially introduced the DREAM Act in 2001, voted against the measure Tuesday because Democrats also included the repeal of the gay ban. “This is a blatant political ploy to try to galvanize his political base as far as the Hispanic community is concerned,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said of Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s actions before the vote.
The procedural vote to bring the full bill to the Senate floor failed 56-43, with Democrats unable to gather the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill. The failure of the bill to reach the Senate floor made it highly unlikely that either the DREAM Act or the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will be considered again before the November mid-term elections.
Sources: Statement from Jason Villalba, TheHill.com, FoxNews