The Washington Post is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is ready to schedule a test vote on the DREAM Act even though he’s not yet sure if he has enough votes to pass the amnesty legislation.
Once Sen. Reid files a motion for cloture on the DREAM Act, a vote would likely occur after the Senate has met for at least one day.
The DREAM Act would provide an amnesty to an estimated 2.1 million illegal aliens. To qualify for provisional status, individuals must have come to the United States before the age of 16, been in the country for at least the last five years, and hold a high school diploma or GED. To earn citizenship, individuals who qualify for provisional status must attend college or join the military.
Sen. Reid has repeatedly said he would allow the DREAM Act to come to the Senate floor as a stand alone bill after attempts to attach it to the Defense Authorization bill failed to receive enough votes for cloture in September. Sixty votes are required to begin debate on the bill…
By Micheal E. Hill
The text of S. 3992, the latest version of the DREAM Act, has emerged, revealing a number of significant changes that were made to the bill in an attempt to secure the requisite 60 votes that willl be needed to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of the measure.
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the latest version of the DREAM Act late in the evening on Tuesday, November 30, 2010. The Democratic Leadership immediately moved to put the bill on track for full Senate consideration, a process that will take several days.
Two of the changes that were made in this “final” version of the DREAM Act were widely anticipated. The first of these is the dropping of a provision that would have amended the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the provision in that law that effectively prohibit states from providing in-state tuition for undocumented aliens unless the state provides in-state tuition to all citizens and nationals of the United States.
The second of these is an increase in the bill’s cut-off age for DREAM Act beneficairies. The original version of the DREAM Act would have permitted persons who were up to age 35 to benefit from the bill. Subsequent versions of the bill reduced that cutoff age to 30 years-of-age. This change was retained in S. 3992.
A quick reading of S. 3992 reveals a number of other significant changes that were made in this “final” version of the bill. For instance, the original version of the bill would have provided for a six year period of conditional residency before a DREAM Act child could become a legal permanent resident. In the new version, that period was extended to ten years. In the original version of the bill, DREAM Act children were not exposed to a health exclusion.
In the new version, they would be. In the original version of the bill, a DREAM Act child was eligible for naturalization immediately upon becoming a permanent resident. In the new version, they are not eligible for naturalization until they have been a permanent resident for three years. And the new version of the bill expands the definition of qualifying educational institutions that DREAM Act children may attend for the purposes of qualifying for DREAM Act benefits.
Now that S. 3992 has been introduced, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will maneuver it through several parliamentary hoops before he can file a motion to proceed to consideration of the bill and a cloture motiion on that motion to proceed. At the time of this writing, it appears that the earliest that a cloture motion could be filed is Thursday, December 2, an action that would set up a cloture vote for as early as Saturday., December 4. It was not known at the time of this writing whether Majority Leader Reid will take the unsual step of holding a cloture vote on a Saturday or if he would seek to hold a cloture vote sometime next week.
Senate rules require the affirmative votes of 60 senators in order to invoke cloture (shut down debate) on a measure. Accordingly, Majority Leader Reid will need to convince 60 senators to vote in favor of invoking cloture in order to bring S. 3992 before the Senate.
In the meantime, Senate Republicans seem to have unified behind an approach that would deny cloture on any legislation — presumably including the DREAM Act — “until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.”
All 42 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid saying that, “with little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.” If all 42 Republicans make good on the threat, it would present a significant obstacle to the DREAM Act and other legislative measures.
Even before Wednesday’s threat from all 42 Republican senators, securing 60 votes to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of the DREAM Act was a daunting task, given that several of the 58 sitting Democratic senators are expected to vote against doing so.
In any imaginable scenario, Majority Leader Reid will have to win the votes of at least a half-dozen Republicans in order to invoke cloture on the measure. At the time of this writing, Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) were the only Republicans who shad indicated support for it.
Prior to Tuesday, November 30, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) had introduced four versions of the DREAM Act during the 111th Congress, a move that was made in order to keep his options open in case he needed to make changes to the bill in order to secure the votes of wavering senators.
The four versions that he had introduced prior to Tuesday were S. 729, the original version of the measure, as well as S. 3827, S. 3962, and S. 3963. Each version made changes around the edges of the original version of the measure — some big and some small. In the end, the Majority Leader chose to attempt to bring a fifth version, S. 3992, before the full Senate for its consideration.
Since the passing of the Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 6 million illegal aliens have received amnesty in the United States. The IRCA Amnesty was supposed to “wipe the slate clean” and instead it’s lead to the current situation of 12-20 million illegal aliens living in the country.
|The Seven Amnesties Passed by Congress
|1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986: A blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens|
|2. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994: A temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens|
|3. Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997: An extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994|
|4. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997: An amnesty for close to one million illegal aliens from Central America|
|5. Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998: An amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti|
|6. Late Amnesty, 2000: An amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have been amnestied under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens|
|7. LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000: A reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens|
|COMMITTEE ACTION: REPORTED BY A RECORD VOTE of 8-2 on Wednesday, December 8, 2010.
|[Report No. 111-677]|
Senate amendments to H.R. 5281 – Removal Clarification Act of 2010 (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act)
1. Provides for the consideration of the Senate amendments to H.R. 5281.
2. Makes in order a motion by the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary that the House concur in the Senate amendments numbered 1 and 2, and that the House concur in the Senate amendment numbered 3 with the amendment printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution.
3. Provides one hour of debate on the motion equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary.
4. Waives all points of order against consideration of the motion except those arising under clause 10 of rule XXI.
5. Provides that the Senate amendments and the motion shall be considered as read.
Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to take from the Speaker’s table the bill (H.R. 5281) to amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify and improve certain provisions relating to the removal of litigation against Federal officers or agencies to Federal courts, and for other purposes, with the Senate amendments thereto, and to consider in the House, without intervention of any point of order except those arising under clause 10 of rule XXI, a single motion offered by the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary or his designee that the House concur in the Senate amendments numbered 1 and 2, and that the House concur in the Senate amendment numbered 3 with the amendment printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution.
The Senate amendments and the motion shall be considered as read. The motion shall be debatable for one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to final adoption without intervening motion or demand for division of the question.
SUMMARY OF HOUSE AMENDMENT
Under the amendment, a Dream Act applicant who meets the amendment’s requirements becomes a “conditional nonimmigrant.” The Dream Act would allow an individual to obtain this conditional status only if he or she meets all of a set of requirements, including having been brought to the as a child 15 years old or younger, and is currently 29 years old or younger. The Dream Act further limits eligibility for conditional status by specifically excluding anyone who has committed one felony or three misdemeanors or is likely to become a public charge, among other criteria.
While they are in conditional status, Dream Act participants are excluded from receiving government subsidies to participate in the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. They also would be ineligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps and other entitlement programs. Furthermore, they are prohibited from obtaining Pell grants, Federal supplemental educational opportunity grants, and other federal grants. However, they would be eligible for federal work study and student loans as well as social insurance programs to which they have contributed, as this would require them to earn or repay the money they need for their education.
Conditional nonimmigrant status must be terminated if the participant fails to continue to meet the conditions for receiving that status, including having good moral character, keeping a clean criminal record, and staying self-sufficient. If the applicant has joined the military, status must be terminated if the applicant receives a dishonorable or other than honorable discharge. Under the bill, a successful Dream Act applicant receives a conditional status for an initial period of 5 years. After those 5 years, the individual applies for an extension of their conditional status for a second period of 5 years. The Dream Act would allow an individual to obtain the 5-year extension of their conditional status only if he or she has demonstrated good moral character during the 5-year period they have had conditional status; has lived continuously in the United States during the 5 years; and has either earned a degree from an institution of higher education, completed at least two years of post-secondary education in good standing towards a bachelor’s degree, served in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least two years and, if discharged, has received an honorable discharge.
After 10 years in conditional status, the Dream Act then gives this limited group of individuals the chance to earn lawful permanent resident status, but only if the applicant meets additional standards such as having paid taxes; having demonstrated the ability to read, write, and speak English and demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States; having maintained good moral character throughout the 10 years; having lived continuously in the United States throughout the 10 years; and having once more submitted biometric and biographic information and completed security and law-enforcement background checks.
The Dream Act also contains a one-year application deadline. An individual would be required to apply for conditional status within one year of obtaining a high school degree or a GED or the effective date of interim regulations under the Act. The Dream Act places the burden of proof on the applicant. An individual would be required to demonstrate eligibility for the Dream Act by a preponderance of the evidence.