Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
A student activist's t-shirt, December 2010
A recent post detailed the results of a poll suggesting that while most Latino voters prefer the original versionof the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to some undocumented youths who go to college or join the military, they are divided over a slimmed-down alternative, dubbed "DREAM-light" in the report.
The original Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act proposes granting conditional legal status to undocumented college students and military hopefuls who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, with a path to citizenship. But the measure has been stalled in Congress for a decade. It was voted down in the Senate in late 2010, and the latest version introduced last year by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has yet to advance.
In the meantime, two Republican lawmakers from Florida have introduced their own alternatives. The "DREAM-light" refers to a forthcoming proposal being floated by Sen. Marco Rubio, which would also offer these young people temporary legal status, but without a clear path to citizenship. And Rep. David Rivera has introduced two measures, including the new Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act, which would benefit undocumented students who graduate with four-year degrees, and the less-popular Adjusted Residency Status (ARMS) Act, a military-only version that would benefit those who enlist.
Source: Latino Decisions
The polling firm Latino Decisions has been tracking Latino voter attitudes in the run-up to the 2012 election for some time now, and the latest temperature check deals with what's referred to as "DREAM-light," a yet-to-be-introduced alternative to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that is being floated by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
The poll also checks the temperature on Latino voters' support for President Obama vs. GOP nominee-apparent Mitt Romney, although there's no surprise there: As several other recent polls have indicated, Latino voters continue to favor Obama, even in spite of Obama's recent statement in support of same-sex marriage and some Latinos' social conservatism.
But the Dream Act part is interesting, if not altogether surprising either. An overwhelming majority of the Latinos polled said they supported the most recent version of the original Dream Act, which proposes granting conditional legal status to undocumented college students and military hopefuls who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, with a path to citizenship. The forthcoming version being discussed by Rubio would also offer these young people temporary legal status, but without a clear path to citizenship, a aspect that's faced substantial criticism.
As November elections neared in 2010, the Democratic supporters of the immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act kicked into high gear, pushing it toward an eventual vote in the House and Senate that December.
The bill proposed conditional legal status for qualifying young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16, provided they go to college or join the military. It didn't go anywhere in 2010, but as November nears and both major parties fight for Latino votes, expect the Democratic-backed bill to figure prominently again, along with a few stripped-down mutations as Republican lawmakers formulate alternative proposals.
How many "Dream Acts" are there? Here's the original plus a growing list of alternatives:
1) The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act: This is the original proposal last voted on in 2010. Various versions have come and gone since 2001. Originally a bipartisan proposal, its initial Republican backers have since dropped off. The bill failed to clear a Senate vote in December 2010, but a similar version was reintroduced last year by Senate Democrats. The bill would grant conditional legal status and a path to citizenship to undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, so long as they attend college or join the military and meet other criteria. The proposed age cap for applicants is 35.