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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dems to push for passage of DREAM Act

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration and congressional Democrats will hold a Wednesday news conference to push for passage of a bill that would grant eligibility for citizenship for thousands of young illegal immigrants if they go to college or serve in the military.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM, is expected to come up for a vote in both the House and Senate this week.

Championing the bill for the White House is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and Rep. Howard Berman, D-California, are also scheduled to appear.

The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children. Under the bill, an individual would have to be of "good moral character" and either receive a college degree or complete at least two years of U.S. military service

"I urge the Congress to pass the DREAM Act and set aside old labels," Napolitano said last week. "There are compelling reasons to support it. ... It will strengthen the military and strengthen the economy."

Napolitano urged Congress to act "and come together on a bipartisan basis and in the grand tradition of this country." She said the DREAM Act would help people who were "brought here by others ... not of their own volition ... but were brought here by parents or smuggled into the country by human traffickers."

The bill could grant amnesty to more than 2 million illegal immigrants, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said last week.

"Mass amnesty is not the only problem with the DREAM Act," he said. "The bill allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public universities, placing them ahead of U.S. citizens. The bill also is a magnet for fraud."

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