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DREAM Act? Dream on.

House Dems revived the DREAM Act on the very first day of the session - and Senate Republicans let it die again.
Barbara Bailey (center) buried the DREAM Act in her higher ed committee.

Barbara Bailey (center) buried the DREAM Act in her higher ed committee. Photo: Allyce Andrew

The Washington House shot the DREAM Act over to the Senate Monday. Where key Senate leaders immediately shot it down.

Under the DREAM Act, the children of undocumented immigrants would be eligible to apply for college financial aid from the state. Those who stand to benefit most from the legislation are the kids of migrant farmworkers in Eastern Washington.

The DREAM Act passed the House last year (77-20) with significant Republican support. But the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus refused to let the bill go to a floor vote in that chamber. This despite the fact that moderate GOP members of the Caucus supposedly supported passage. Choosing not to defy the Caucus's conservative majority, those moderates helped keep the bill from a floor vote.

House Democrats revived the DREAM Act on Monday, the very first day of the 2014 session. (The legislation was technically still alive because the new session is part of the same 2013-2015 biennium.) Dems zipped the bill through the House with a 71-23 vote and sent it, once again, to the Senate. The bill could skip new hearings since it is identical to the legislation that the House passed last year.

"This bill simply allows all children in college to be treated the same," said Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwilla, one of the bill's chief sponsors. " ... It is not a giveaway, but an opportunity to compete." said Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwilla, one of the bill's chief sponsors.

DREAM opponent Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, countered: Of the 106,000 students who apply for state college aid each year, about 32,000 do not get any. Adding undocumented immigrants to the pool would make those odds even longer. "Statistics unfortunately trump the dream at this time," said Haler.

Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, along with Senate Higher Education Committee chair Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, said it was unlikely that the revived bill would be voted on in the Senate, even though there looks to be enough moderate support, including from Tom, to ensure its passage. Tom is deferring to higher ed committee chair Bailey, who said she won't hold a hearing on the bill or move it. The DREAM Act bill needs study, said Bailey, and her committee won't have time to tackle it because of higher priorities, such as tuition matters for veterans.

Tom conceded that the DREAM Act is a jobs bill, which is one of prime planks of the majority coalition's philosophical approach to legislation. But Tom and the coalition's other moderates have never been willing to break with the conservative-dominated caucus on controversial legislation. Today was no different. The composition of the coalition has shifted from last year's two Democrats and 23 Republicans to this year's two Democrats and 24 Republicans, giving the coalition a 26-23 majority in the Senate. The DREAM Act is still dead.

John Stang is a longtime Inland Northwest newspaper reporter who earned a Masters of Communications in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jan 14, 6:25 a.m. Inappropriate

"The composition of the coalition has shifted from last year's two Democrats and 23 Republicans to this year's two Democrats and 24 Republicans, giving the coalition a 26-23 majority in the Senate."

Actually, the resignation of Sen. Paull Shin (D - LD21) makes the split 26-22 until his replacement (all but certain to be Rep. Marko Liias, a Democrat) is appointed.

Posted Tue, Jan 14, 10:21 a.m. Inappropriate

I understand this bill was written from the national bill which grants amnesty that rewards illegal entry first, and interestingly has no requirement that applicants actually graduate from high school or any educational program. This bill was not passed by congress but is now being enforced by President Obama's executive order, enabling young illegals to jump the immigration queue to please the open borders lobby. All that is required under the guidelines is that applicants are in an educational program at the time they apply for deferred action. They can drop out the day after they fill out the forms. USCIS explains that a person is eligible if they simply are “currently in school”. Alternatively, a person would be eligible if they “graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States”. Graduation is not a requirement. The education component can also be met if a person is in a “literacy or career training program” at the time they apply for deferred action. USCIS notes that it has a lot of leeway in determining what programs qualify.

Consequently,the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports in fiscal 2011-12 that child migrants apprehended at the border have surged 208% from Honduras (from 974 to 2,997),145% from Guatemala (1,565 to 3,835), 138% from El Salvador (1,394 to 3,314), and 19% from Mexico (11,768 to 13,974) over the year earlier. And a search of the Google Honduras, Google Mexico, Google Guatemala and Google El Salvador websites shows significant spikes on search terms such as "Dream Act," "Acta Sueno" and particularly "Ley Dream" on days when Congress voted for the Dream Act (December 2010), on the days when President Obama issued an executive order to loosen the requirements and add waivers to the Dream Act, and when federal bureaucrats began taking Dream Act applications (August 2012).

The consequences to us: A significant rise in an already unsustainable inundation of this country during a period of weak economic opportunity and significant numbers of Americans unable to enroll in universities. Apparently these demo legislators do little research or just do cherry-picking research when voting on a measure like this.

Posted Tue, Jan 14, 10:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks. I appreciate your research.

Posted Tue, Jan 14, 10:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Ditto.

kieth

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