David Bennion: September 2010 Archives

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his intent last week to attach the DREAM Act to the defense authorization bill that would appropriate money to fund U.S. military operations. Democrats were not able to get 60 votes in support of beginning debate on the bill, so now the future of the DREAM Act is up in the air. The DREAM Act would provide permanent residence to undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children who complete two years of college or military service.

After the vote, DREAMers immediately responded to their network of supporters: Call 202-224-3121 and ask Senator Reid to bring the DREAM Act to the Senate floor as a standalone bill.

One persistent feature of media coverage of the DREAM Act is the tendency to characterize the DREAM Act as "controversial" legislation: for example, here, here, and here.

But the editorial boards of those same media outlets have overwhelmingly supported passage of the DREAM Act, 14 out of 16 at last count. I have read op-eds by anti-immigrant politicians or advocates that took an anti-DREAM Act position. But I have seen only two opinion pieces from newspaper editorial boards that opposed the DREAM Act on the merits. And each of them mischaracterized some key element of the Act or of the debate.

Mayor Nutter.jpg

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter recently wrote to Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey to ask them to vote for the DREAM Act. Both letters are linked at the bottom of this post. Here is the text of the mayor's letter to Senator Casey:

September 17, 2010

The Honorable Robert P. Casey
United States Senate
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Casey,

I am writing to express my support of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (the DREAM Act), which, as you know, would provide immigrant youth who grew up in the United States the opportunity to legalize their status through education or military service. Passing the DREAM Act would bring hope to thousands of undocumented youth living in this country and ultimately strengthen our economy.

Every year, thousands of students graduate from high school in the United States and cannot obtain student loans and grants that would enable them to continue their education because they are undocumented residents. Many would like to go on to college, but cannot because of their status. Undocumented young adults are also prohibited from joining the military. They cannot get a valid driver's license. Many end up in low-wage, dead-end jobs.

I have set ambitious education attainment goals for the City of Philadelphia, knowing that a skilled workforce is necessary for the city's economic future. Philadelphia and the surrounding counties will not continue to thrive unless more of our residents go to college--including undocumented children who currently have no pathway to citizenship. The DREAM Act would benefit Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania by providing young people with the tools needed to become citizens, go to college or enlist in the military and achieve the American dream. In the current economic situation, we cannot afford to have young people who want to attend college and or serve the nation they grew up in be barred from doing so.

I am encouraged by Senator Harry Reid's pledge this week to bring up the DREAM ACt as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill and ask that you vote in favor of passage. Thousands of would-be college students and I will be forever grateful for your leadership.


Michael Nutter

Nutter Dream letter to Specter.pdf

Nutter Dream letter to Casey.pdf

Undocumented and Unafraid

As the discussion about the DREAM Act heats up in the Senate this week, news outlets around the country have expressed support for the Act. The DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children more than five years ago the chance to apply for legal status, provided they graduate from high school or obtain a GED and complete two years of college or military service.

I've not yet seen a newspaper editorial anywhere that has gone on record opposing the DREAM Act. [Update: now there are two.] This could be because people who take the time to become familiar with the Act well enough to write a column about it end up supporting it. Or it could be that those who oppose it don't want to mark their place in history on the wrong side of a landmark civil rights struggle.

Here are the expressions of support for the DREAM Act, if I've missed any, please let me know in comments.

Updates below [9/21/10 00:25 EST]:

Second update below [9/23/10 9:00 EST] - I've revised the list to include only newspaper editorials, not op-eds or other pieces not written by the editorial board of a news outlet:

In favor of the DREAM Act:

Arizona Republic

Chicago Tribune

Denver Post

Deseret News
- Utah

JDNews.com (Jacksonville, NC)

Los Angeles Times

Mercury News (San Jose, CA)

Newsday (Long Island, NY)

New York Daily News

New York Times

Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah)

Philadelphia Inquirer

Saint Louis Today

San Francisco Chronicle

Opposed to the DREAM Act:

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Las Vegas Review-Journal