2010-12-08 / Features

Liu Urges Passage Of DREAM Act

BY JOHN TOSCANO

“This would be a tremendous milestone toward humane, comprehensive immigration reform.” “This would be a tremendous milestone toward humane, comprehensive immigration reform.” Citing his own personal experience, City Comptroller John Liu has called for passage of the so-called DREAM Act, which would provide an opportunity for almost a million young undocumented aliens to become U.S. citizens, while also providing an incentive for them to go to college.

Liu, a Flushing resident, said the DREAM Act (the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented aliens if it is enacted by the House and Senate and signed by the president.

The bill provides for undocumented aliens who came here as children to have these benefits if they have lived here for five years and have completed high school and then agree to attend college or serve in the military.

Liu, who emigrated to this country with his parents when he was five years old, was sent by them to public schools in Flushing starting in kindergarten at P.S. 20. After graduation, he graduated from The Bronx High School of Science, one of the city’s most prestigious schools, and then graduated from Binghamton University in Upstate New York, one of the best that SUNY has to offer.

Eventually, he served for eight years in the City Council and then was elected as the city comptroller, where he took office on January 1 of this year.

In calling for passage of the DREAM Act, now pending in both the House and Senate, Liu stated:

“Creating paths to citizenship is good for New York. Paving the paths with education and service makes economic sense. The DREAM Act recognizes that all young people, with endless potential, need not fear reprisal of deportation— merely because of a documentation status outside of their control—while pursuing opportunities of higher education or serving our country.

“This would be a tremendous milestone toward humane, comprehensive immigration reform.” Liu continued, “The 111th Congress can and must open the gates for countless many so that they, too, may contribute and live their American Dream.”

There is Democratic support for the bill in the House, as indicated by Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Bayside) and 40 Democratic colleagues petitioning Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on it.

However, its chances of passage in the Senate are not promising. Although the Democratic majority has indicated strong support for it, the Republicans in the Senate last Wednesday issued a policy statement in which they pledged they would block all legislation until the Senate addresses the issue of funding government operations and passage of extending the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, which will otherwise expire shortly.

Among the legislation that would fall victim to the GOP blockade pledge is the DREAM Act. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) had pledged during his recent successful reelection campaign, that the Democrats would vote to pass the DREAM Act before the session ends on December 31.

But the pledge to block all the bills covered by the GOP’s action made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) will affect many other significant bills awaiting a call up, including the 9/11 compensation bill and the extension of unemployment benefits.

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