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DREAM Act proponents and the media neglect to emphasize key age provision in immigration-related bill

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As the DREAM Act is expected to take center stage today in a defense appropriations bill, there’s been one particular fact both underreported and even omitted from some public discourse. While the immigration amendment is primarily being pushed as a pathway to citizenship for illegal minors in the states, the bill’s summary states that it applies well beyond illegal immigrants considered minors, going so far as to reach illegals at least under the age of 35 at the date of enactment.

Essentially, the bill applies not only to minors meeting its certain requirements, but also to illegal immigrant adults who can technically be age 34 at the date of enactment. Despite this explicit fact, the legislation’s proponents have omitted this from their advocacy of the issue. Take Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), for instance, who pushed to include DREAM in a defense appropriations bill.  The Senator didn’t even make mention that the legislation encompasses a broader segment of illegal aliens than merely minors.  

     “This amendment will ensure that millions of children who grow up as Americans will be able to get the education they need to contribute to our economy.  Students who come to America before age 16 and who have been here for five years should be able get their after they go to college or serve in the military.  And many who have volunteered to defend our country can finally become citizens of it,” he said in a statement. 

Likewise, the nation’s largest civil rights and advocacy Hispanic organization La Raza, also pushed the amendment as primarily having a minors bent without mentioning the broad age range of illegals to whom it would apply if enacted.  Their position on the statement is:

     "a path to U.S. citizenship for hardworking and talented immigrant students who have been raised in the U.S., is critical to improving the pipeline from high school to college and providing meaningful employment for Latinos.” 

Some news coverage of Harry Reid’s move has been off the mark as well.  The Los Angeles Times ran with the headline “Senate Democrats leader wants amendment to defense bill to help illegal immigrant youth” and merely stated that the bill would “help young people in the country illegally become legal U.S. residents.”   Again, no mention that the amendment encompasses a broad age group of illegals in the country. 

For all that it’s worth, the amendment’s name is misleading. The bill itself seems to serve as a stealth mini-amnesty for illegals other than youth. Certain politicians, media, and organizations have been party to carrying forth such half-truths.  The practical consequences of the amendment change the dynamics of the debate, broadening the amount of illegals who can stay in the country under the authority of the Homeland Security Secretary.  For a place like California, which already faces crowded community colleges, this is something residents ought to seriously evaluate. 

Whatever one’s feelings are concerning immigration reform, let this incident serve as a lesson to the independent-minded voter to live up to his or her political label. Be independent. Dig deep into the language of bills and amendments to see what they really say. Question the Establishment.

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