Late Wednesday the DREAM Act passed by a margin of 216-198 in the House of Representatives, meaning the bill now only needs Senate approval. While Congress has yet to hash out an official decision regarding everyone’s tax situation for 2011, the lame duck House membership was sure to rush the DREAM Act to a vote.
Fate of Bill Uncertain
What’s not so certain is the bill’s fate in the Senate. Opposition to the bill in both chambers has centered on the argument that the DREAM Act grants amnesty to illegal immigrants. While several senators are on board with passing the DREAM Act, it does not appear that the Democrats have enough support to pass the bill. That means that the bill could potentially die in the Senate.
Bill is Shrouded in Controversy
The bill is controversial because it allows a path to citizenship for young people brought to America illegally before the age of 16, who have been in the country at least five years, and either join the military or attend college for at least two years. While the DREAM Act does not grant immediate citizenship to illegal immigrants, it does lay a foundation to become a citizen.
An opponent of the bill, Lamar Smith, states other drawbacks: “The bill allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public universities, placing them ahead of U.S. citizens. The bill also is a magnet for fraud.”
Proponents state that it rewards those who have worked so hard for our country, and that it’s not their fault they were brought into the country illegally.
Potential Impact to the Deficit
Obviously the overall impact of such a bill cannot be fully known until it is implemented. However, proponents suggest it could reduce the National Debt in the short term by increasing tax revenue due to new citizens paying taxes who may not be paying them now. What isn’t mentioned as loudly is the same group projecting that it will actually cost billions of dollars over the long-term once fully its fully implemented. Opponents also raise the issue of the DREAM Act including those with criminal records .
It has become abundantly clear that people all across the United States believe something should be done regarding immigration, and are eagerly awaiting solutions to such a difficult situation. What still remains to be seen, however, is just how much influence the current lame duck Congress still has.