Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Republican Promotes ‘DREAM Act’ Bill Benefiting Soldiers, Not Students

First came the DREAM Act; now we’re at ARMS.

The Miami Herald reports that Florida Congressman David Rivera, R-Miami, has filed a bill proposing that undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and serve in the military be provided a path to U.S. citizenship. He calls it ARMS, or Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act.

Unlike the DREAM act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) legislation, ARMS would not help college students.

The future of undocumented young people is shaping up to be a contentious issue in the coming presidential election. Rivera says that he developed the proposal after Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney expressed support for giving undocumented immigrants who serve in the military the opportunity to earn legal status  at Monday’s Florida GOP debate . “If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America,” Rivera told the Herald.

Romney previously declared that  he would veto the DREAM act. The act has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress since 2001.

So, are legislators in your state floating similar ideas? It’s worth checking on.

Meanwhile, this week President Obama renewed his support for a path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrant college students and armed services members in his State of the Union speech. He included it in a section calling for immigration reform. The president has been under increasing heat from Latino leaders upset by the rising number of deportations.

I found it interesting that he did not refer to the DREAM Act by name in his speech. Here’s that part of his speech from Tuesday:

“Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation…”

He went on to add:

“We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

Defending undocumented immigrant college students is a risky stance to take in today’s political environment. When Texas governor Rick Perry defended his state’s policy on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students while running for the Republican nomination, he came under heavy fire. It proved deadly to his viability as a presidential candidate.