Immigration bill stalls, despite efforts of local representatives

Despite vocal support of local representatives in Washington, a bill to provide legal status to undocumented immigrant youth is at risk of collapsing after the Senate shelved the measure Thursday.

The House passed the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant legal status to undocumented immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military, on Wednesday. This move was supported by Alhambra representative Adam Schiff, who took the House floor Thursday. "I’ve heard from many high schoolers in my district who have done everything right, but discover when they apply for college that they are not a citizen, that the doors to education and a better life are closed to them," Schiff said. "The US has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants who want to work hard, play by the rules and build a better life for themselves and their families." Urging the Senate to pass the bill, he concluded, "It will make our economy, military, and nation stronger."

Representative Judy Chu, also a Democrat who used to represent Alhambra as a state assemblywoman (in a role now held by her husband) joined Schiff in supporting the bill and urging Senate to take action. "I know how important this bill is because I taught in the LA Community College District for 20 years," Chu said in a statement. "I taught hundreds and hundreds of students, whose only hope for a better life was through higher education, and whose lives changed dramatically when they got a degree."

Senators Boxer and Feinstein are both co-sponsors in the Senate of the Dream Act, but it still looks unlikely that it will pass due to strong Republican opposition. "The Dream Act’s fate is now to be determined later this month, possibly next week. And while the obituaries today may be premature, the bill still faces an uphill slog in the Senate, where it’s unlikely that already stiff Republican opposition will be swayed, KPCC reporter Leslie Berestein Rojas writes in her blog Multi-American.

Here's some more from Rojas' post Dream Act: Is it alive or isn't it?:

"Among the points raised by GOP leaders opposing the bill have been concerns about fraudulent applications, an increase in overall immigration as beneficiaries eventually sponsor family members, and cost. A recent Congressional Budget Office report concluded that the Dream Act would reduce the federal deficit over the next decade. However, costs would rise in the long term as beneficiaries start becoming permanent legal residents and U.S. citizens, making them eligible for government programs available to other Americans.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said he was still optimistic that there might be some concessions made by GOP lawmakers, especially if the tax cut issue is resolved.

'The House surprised us last night, and the Senate might well surprise us too,' he said."

Alhambra residents, if you're undocumented, or could be affected by this bill, we want to hear about your experiences.

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