El Senado de los Estados Unidos postergó para la próxima semana la votación sobre el Dream Act. Así le dañó el sueño a miles de estudiantes hispanos que esperaban su aprobación.
La Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos había aprobado el proyecto de ley conocido como DREAM Act, que le daría la posibilidad a miles de jóvenes nacidos en el extranjero de normalizar su estatus migratorio. (Versión en inglés más abajo).
Sin embargo, las estimaciones de los analistas indican que el Senado no aprobaría la medida que es impulsada por el líder de la mayoría demócrata en la cámara alta, Harry Reid y hasta por la propia Casa Blanca. El Senado tiene previsto votar este jueves 9 de diciembre de 2010, pero parece difícil que los demócratas puedan obtener los 60 votos necesarios.
«Se trata de una lucha ardua», reconoció el senador Dick Durbin, el segundo demócrata más destacado en la cámara alta.
El presidente Barack Obama emitió una declaración elogiando la aprobación del proyecto de ley, y lo calificó como lo correcto a hacer por Estados Unidos.
El proyecto de ley conocido como DREAM Act (por su siglas sigla en inglés de Ley para el Desarrollo, Asistencia y Educación de Menores Extranjeros), fue aprobado por el Congreso por 216 votos a favor y 198 en contra.
La iniciativa que es definitiva por los activistas hispanos y los grupos defensores de los inmigrantes como un paso adelante antes de que se logre una amplia reforma migratoria, contempla la posibilidad para algunos jóvenes nacidos en el extranjero, que se puedan convertir en residentes legales del país después de pasar dos años en la universidad o en las fuerzas armadas.
La medida se aplicaría a inmigrantes que tenían menos de 16 años al ingresar a Estados Unidos, hayan vivido en el país al menos cinco años y tengan un diploma de alguna secundaria estadounidense o su equivalente.
Sus críticos consideran que es una especie de amnistía para personas que violaron la ley y que alentaría a muchos extranjeros a intentar ingresar a Estados Unidos con la esperanza de ser legalizados algún día.
A cowardly Senate fails on DREAM Act
By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
San Diego, California (CNN) — Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, warned his colleagues
in Congress on Wednesday that the vote on the DREAM Act was a test of their tolerance,
fairness and sense of justice.
«Will we pass the test? Gutierrez asked. «Will we get an ‘A’ or an ‘F’?»
Now that the votes are in, the grades are mixed: «A’s» in the House but an «F» for
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not have 60 votes necessary to
get cloture and force a vote on the bill. Republicans made sure of that. The DREAM
Act may be dead, and if so, it will have been at the hands of cowards.
At least the Republicans in the House were willing to stand up and make one ridiculous
argument after another in opposition to the bill. Republican senators didn’t even
have the guts to do that.
But, while it’s convenient for those on the left to cast Republicans as the main
villains in the DREAM Act drama, it’s not accurate or fair. What happened here
should be viewed as an indictment of both parties.
In fact, before the vote, a frustrated Gutierrez said that if the bill didn’t pass,
he might leave the Democratic Party and lead a national movement in defense of immigrants’
I hope Gutierrez does just that. The Illinois congressman has always been more committed
to both the DREAM Act and the larger cause of comprehensive immigration reform than
either the White House or his fellow Democrats in Congress. Now a divorce might
be in order.
DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, and it’s the
brainchild of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana. The
bill targets young people in the country illegally, offering them «conditional permanent
residency» if they came to the United States before they were 16 and if they attend
college or serve in the military.
Once they either graduate from an institution of higher education, complete two
years toward a bachelor’s degree or complete their enlistment, they would have been
eligible for permanent legal residency with a chance to eventually apply for U.S.
citizenship. However, anyone who didn’t participate by enrolling in college or joining
the military would have been subject to deportation.
Ideas this good don’t come around very often. When they do, they are so reasonable
and make so much sense that you just know that they’re going to have a tough time
getting through Congress. And sure enough, that’s what happened in this case.
The concept of swapping legal status for college attendance or military service
was proposed in Congress in August 2001, and it quickly went on the back burner.
Conservatives winced because they feared the concept bore too close a resemblance
to amnesty, and liberals cringed because they were concerned that offering legal
status to college students and military enlistees could take the steam out of the
broader effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
Both parties failed to give this proposal a fair hearing, one that would have evaluated
the idea on its own merits rather than coupling it with the immigration debate or
weighing it in terms of perceived political benefit.
Both parties used the measure for partisan purposes, Democrats to pander to Hispanics
with what party leaders saw as a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform
and Republicans to rile up their conservative base.
Both parties made the perfect the enemy of the good, helping to undermine a measure
that could have affected the lives of some 2.1 million young people because they
didn’t like some part of the bill or worried about the impact it would have.
Overall, there wasn’t been just a lack of commitment to this bill. There was also
a lack of seriousness. If lawmakers had been serious about improving the lot of
a group of young people who are stuck in legal limbo through no fault of their own,
they would have compromised and amended the bill to win more votes.
Even Newt Gingrich, a critic of the overall bill, suggested going down that road.
Some parts of the DREAM Act were «useful,» said the possible presidential candidate.
He said there should be different rules for those who cross the border on their
own and those who were brought here as children by their parents. The problem, Gingrich
said, was that Democrats brought up the bill solely as a «political gimmick.»
Meanwhile, Republicans like Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, were more than happy
to play politics from their side of the aisle. Sessions repeatedly called the DREAM
Act a «mass amnesty,» which showed that he either didn’t read the bill or read it
but didn’t understand it. An amnesty is when you get something for nothing. In this
legislative quid pro quo, young people who went to college or joined the military
would have gotten something for something.
A mass amnesty? This kind of bumper sticker slogan tends to incite the base, but
it doesn’t add anything to the discussion. And it certainly doesn’t do anything
to make this a better country.
The House did the right thing yesterday, albeit by a narrow margin. The Senate did
the wrong thing. Those in the upper chamber had the rare opportunity to cut through
the dishonesty and noise of the immigration debate and actually do one good thing
that would have helped improve people’s lives in a real and concrete way.
That was the senators’ test. And they failed it with flying colors.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette Jr.