Late in the day on Wednesday, House lawmakers passed legislation allowing illegal immigrant students to remain permanently and legally in the United States. The DREAM Act was approved by a final vote of 216 to 198, with eight Republicans breaking ranks and voting for the measure. 38 Democrats voted against it.
First introduced in 2001, the House bill extends conditional legal status for five years to illegal immigrants who:
– Were younger than 16 when they entered the country;
– Have lived in the U.S. for at least five years;
– Have a degree from a U.S. high school, or the equivalent.
The bill now moves on to the Senate for a vote. A vote had been scheduled for Wednesday as well, but was postponed until Thursday.
Prospects for the bill are much more precarious in the Senate where a GOP filibuster will require 60 votes for passage. The Senate shot down a similar measure in 2007 and there’s no indication that many members have since changed their mind.
Republicans called the measure a nightmare for the American people and will only hurt those seeking jobs. Proponents of the measure point to the Congressional Budget Estimate that the House bill will save taxpayers $1.4 billion over the next decade while simultaneously offering opportunities for motivated kids who are in the country by no fault of their own.
photo courtesy of Barnaby via Flickr