Senators DREAM on 

The Senate Judiciary committee held a hearing on the immigration reform legislation known as the DREAM act Tuesday morning. The hearing was held at the request of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a long-time DREAM act advocate and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.

In its current form, the DREAM act would grant permanent residency status to illegal residents age 35 and under who came to the United States as children, provided they complete two years of college or military service.

Numerous government officials gave testimony in favor of passage of the DREAM Act, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Illegal immigrants who would benefit from the legislation also spoke.

“Thank you for being here,” Durbin told the illegal immigrants. “Thank you so much for the sacrifice you made to come.”

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were the only Republicans to testify.

The most notable concern discussed at the hearing was the legislation’s potential affect on federal spending.

Opponents of the DREAM act argue that allowing illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition would increase costs to public universities. Advocates argue the DREAM act would actually reduce the deficit by allowing illegal residents to more fully contribute to society and the economy.

"To not take advantage of this as a country is simply nonsensical to me," Secretary Duncan said. "This is an investment, not an expense."

Duncan claimed the DREAM act was crucial to fill millions of future jobs in the field of science.

However, Cornyn disputed this claim, pointing out that the Obama administration could not provide proof that these immigrants would major in science or related areas of study.

The DREAM Act was previously approved in the House last December when Democrats still held the majority, but failed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. The legislation is likely to face the same problem in the Senate now and fail in the Republican-controlled House, but Durbin said he would seek to have the legislation introduced in the Senate nonetheless.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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