Photo by Neil Rivas.
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DREAM Act Immigration Bill Passes In U.S. House; Senate To Vote Thursday

December 9, 2010 By Staff

Photo by Neil Rivas.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — The United States House of Representatives narrowly voted Wednesday to approve the DREAM Act immigration bill, which offers a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who attend college or join the military.

The Democratically-controlled House passed the bill 216 to 198, but there are doubts about whether or not the bill will pass through the Senate, which votes on the measure Thursday.

“The DREAM Act symbolizes what it means to be American,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, according to Politico. “It’s about equality. It’s about opportunity. It’s about the future.”

The DREAM Act has become a partisan battle within the U.S. Congress, as Democrats call the bill a civil rights issue, while Republicans deride as it an amnesty plan that would encourage illegal immigration.

The legislation, which is backed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Hispanic rights groups, provides legal residency to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before the age of 16, complete two years of college or military service and have no criminal record.

“This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America,” Obama said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Republicans claim that the act ignores the rule of law and would take jobs from legal American workers during a time of high unemployment. They also say that the DREAM Act could lead undocumented immigrants to submit fraudulent academic records in the hopes of attaining legal residency.

The bill would “open the doors, yes, to criminal aliens attaining permanent status to the detriment of legal immigrants,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican from Georgia, according to the Kansas City Star.

Despite Republican opposition and a slim chance of passage in the Senate, supporters of the bill were pleased with Wednesday’s vote.

“This is a historic vote, a major victory for thousands of students who want to serve our nation and theirs by going to college or by military service, said Julien Ross, executive director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, according to The Denver Post.

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