A Senate subcommittee Tuesday heard testimony on what's known as The Dream Act. The purpose of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act is to help those people who are not legal U.S. citizens enroll in college or enlist in the military.
Proponents say the measure would give undocumented students the chance to give back to the country. Opponents say it rewards illegal behavior and would encourage more illegal immigration.
The hearing comes just days after a memo was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton. The memo calls for "prosecutorial discretion" in the removal or deportation of those who are in the country illegally.
The Dream Act has become a campaign issue for President Obama, with a link to a page supporting the measure attached to his main campaign website. In order to get more information on the president's position though, you have to sign onto the site and join the campaign's mailing list.
The administration sees the bill as both economic and educational.
Testifying before the subcommittee, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the Dream Act "an investment."
Former West Point professor Margaret Stock, who also testified before the committee, says of the proposal, "The Dream Act will enhance military readiness by substantially enlarging the pool of American-educated young poeple who are eligible for military service. As the U.S. population ages and the cohort of military-age youth shrinks, (this) will ensure that America can continue to maintain its all volunteer force."
If enacted, the Dream Act carries with it a long list of conditions for those who want to be included. Individuals must:
*have graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a G.E.D. and been accepted into a college or university.
*have entered the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday and been in the country for more than five consecutive years.
*be of good moral character.
In Washington there is already a law on the books allowing undocumented students the right to enroll in college and pay in-state tuition rates.
On the federal level though, the Dream Act has little hope of passage. Even when Democrats had a wider majority, the bill failed to gain approval.