Brooklynite Cesar Vargas is a Case Study in Why We Need the DREAM Act to Pass

09/23/2010 3:16 PM |

dream act

Long-time Brooklynite Cesar Vargas joined hundreds of protesters in Washington on Tuesday to lobby for Congress to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

As the Times highlights, Vargas’s life story is a compelling case for permanent residency, if not US citizenship: he’s lived here since he moved to New York from Mexico with his parents at age five; he graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, the alma mater of Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT); he is now a third-year law student at CUNY; and his dream is to serve the US as a military lawyer.

“I’m asking Congress to give us the opportunity to serve the only country we know, the only country we call home,” Vargas declared at a news conference with DREAM Act sponsor Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Durbin’s bill is designed to help young immigrants gain access to the benefits of legal US residency. While not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty, it would give upstanding illegal residents like Vargas a six-year permanent residency in the US, allowing them to qualify for student loans and to serve in the US armed forces.

The bar to qualify for DREAM Act relief is high. Immigrants must be between 12 and 35 years old; have moved here before age 16 and lived here for five consecutive years; have obtained a high school diploma or GED; have a clean criminal record and be of “good moral character” (whatever that means).

Unfortunately, Vargas’s and others’ protests and broad Democratic support weren’t enough to save the act from legislative purgatory: the Senate voted 53-46 on Tuesday to table the Department of Defense amendment to which the DREAM Act was attached.

After the disappointing news from the Senate, the New York City Council convened yesterday to pass a resolution supporting the DREAM Act. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was one of those who testified in favor of the bill. “Each year, approximately 75,000 hard-working immigrant students graduate from high school across the country but are unable to access post-secondary education, obtain federal financial assistance or secure work because of their status,” the Epoch Times quoted.

And on the off chance the act can make it through Congress (perhaps as an independent bill), it’s pretty much guaranteed to have executive approval. President Obama expressed his support for the DREAM Act in a meeting with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and US Representatives Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) and Luis Guttierez (D-IL) earlier this week.

“The president noted that it is time to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents, especially when those youth grew up in America and want to serve their country in the military or pursue a higher education they have earned through academic excellence,” said a White House statement.

2 Comment

  • Not only would the approval of the Dream Act have given millions of children of illegal aliens get a free pass to our education system, but it wouldn’t there would have no restrictions like the House version does. If the Dream Act had only been for the selected few, instead of millions who just qualify by getting a high school diploma up to the age of 35. Senator Reid advanced his political agenda, by placing the Dream Act in the Defense spending bill and was co sponsored by Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dick Lugar (D-IN).

    Involved in this matter and endeavored to pass the Dream Act was mostly Democrats that include incumbents that can be relieved of their Senate seat in the midterm election. Blanche Lincoln (D-R) Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Micheal Bennet (D-CO), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Roland Burris(D-IL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Harry Reid(D-NV), Arlen Spector (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Russ Feingold D-WI). OH! We mustn’t forget Speaker Nancy pelosi? We can send a demanding message that all these incumbents will see the streets in November and other pro-amnesty panderers will join them shortly. We need all Tea Partiers, moderate conservatives and dissatisfied Democrats to join in this revolution for change. We must cement our votes for–ALL–new candidates against each of these incumbents.

    If the controversial DREAM ACT had not been introduced, but “DADT had been admitted, the defense bill may have united both sides–including gays in the military. Personally in my comments, I see nothing wrong with the DADT being deleted, as I have a cousin who is a gay attorney and a nephew who would like to go in the military. However, I am adamantly against the Dream Act, with unbridled facts that are not addressed as Sen. Reids bill has no age limit upto 35 and if you arrived just befor the age of 15, you can still claim–AMNESTY. Further abuse is you don’t have to be an exceptional Scholar, or receive the right grades. The HOUSE bill limited all these hidden conditions. If there are any conditions under the Senator Reid of Nevada Act? The last big problem is that it’s incentive to sponsor the whole family, including uncles and aunts.

    Last time this “Chain Migration” happened was in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill, when another 5.3 million people turned up at our door, under the Chain migration. Sponsored by legitimized Guest workers over 21, however the whole thing turned into a farce, played onto the US taxpayers. Soon the financial sponsors affidavit wasn’t honored anymore and the good ol’ taxpayer ended up footing the bill for the extended family members, including Social Security benefits Not just high achieving valedictorians — or even necessarily good students? This is chiefly

  • It is a travesty that the Dream Act has once again failed. The public is not protected by disallowing so many deserving individuals a chance at legalization. There is a real disconnect between the historical roots of our country and the utter xenophobia expressed by short-sighted, miserly haters. Our country is stronger (in every way, including financial) as the result of immigration, and the time is now to acknowledge this vital segment of our population.