The U.S. Senate blocked the defense authorization bill that included the immigration reform measure known as the DREAM Act, with Florida Sen. George LeMieux supporting a Republican filibuster.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition and Students Working for Equal Rights, both of which support the immigration measure, issued a press release denouncing the bill’s failure and criticizing LeMieux.
“Senator LeMieux has demonstrated that he is not a friend of immigrants and that he is not thinking of the future of Florida,” Felipe Matos, a member of Students Working for Equal Rights, said in the release.
DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, according to this primer from the Washington Independent.
The idea is to provide a path to citizenship for young people who came to the U.S. as children, some of whom don’t even realize they are not citizens until they try to get a driver’s license or apply for college.
Under the act, eligible students can apply for a conditional legal status for a six-year period. During that period, they must graduate from a two-year college, complete two years of a four-year university, or serve in the military for two years. (The military addition replaced community service, which some immigrants rights advocates have criticized.) At the end of the six-year period, they can become permanent legal residents if they have a clean criminal record.
The Sun Sentinel reports that LeMieux opposed including the “extraneous and controversial items not critical to security” in the defense bill.
“While I am sympathetic to the students impacted by current law, I cannot support consideration of the DREAM Act until we have taken substantial and effective measures to secure our borders,” LeMieux said.
“The timing of taking up the Dream Act just weeks before an election, and as part of the Defense Authorization Act, is transparently political and unfortunate to those students whose expectations have been raised,” he said.