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Reid: DREAM Act Will be Added to Defense Authorization Bill

Good news for DREAM Act supporters: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced today the act will be added as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. The bill would provide paths to citizenship for some undocumented students who came to the U.S. as children.

It’s been a long time coming for the DREAM Act, which was first proposed in 2001. It went up for a vote once, in 2007, but was eight votes short of overcoming a filibuster. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the original sponsors, introduced the bill in this session in March 2009.

Reid had previously expressed doubt that he could find the votes to pass the act, but at a stakeout today seemed confident it could pass as part of the defense authorization bill.

“When that passes, millions of children will be able to get the education they need to contribute to our economy,” he said. “Boys and girls who come here before they turn 16 and have been here for five years — kids who grew up as Americans — should be able get their green card after go to college or serve in the military.”

Reform advocates turned their hopes to the act this year as comprehensive immigration reform looked increasingly unlikely.

Reid’s decision is a step in the right direction, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a press release.

“We are thrilled that the Senate will address one of our immediate priorities,” he wrote. “It is our hope they find a similar way forward for AgJOBS, as well as our final goal of comprehensive immigration reform. This is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats alike to lead the nation forward and fix our broken immigration system.”

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