PHOENIX – Senate leaders announced they will vote on the Dream Act next week, which could mean citizenship for millions of young illegal immigrants.
The vote has being met with both celebration and criticism. The Dream Act has been added as an amendment to the defense spending bill, which itself was already controversial because it includes a repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
Critics say neither issue should be grouped in with defense spending but Dream Act supporters are just happy it is being put up for a vote.
A group of Arizona State University are undocumented and were all brought to the United Sates by their parents in the 1990s.
Yadira Garcia tells 3TV, “I didn’t choose to come. My parents brought me when I was 7 yrs old." She says it has been a constant challenge.
Gabriela Perez says, “I graduated this June with a bachelor’s in speech and hearing science." Still, she is jobless and without citizenship both their degrees are not doing them any good.
They have spent years pushing for the Dream Act, which provide paths to citizenship for children who grow up in the U.S. and go to college or enter the military.
The group of students is celebrating the pending vote in Congress. Perez admits, “It's exciting. It's been one of the happiest days for me."
Angelica Hernandez adds, “This is what we were waiting for!"
The Dream Act vote came under fire as soon as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he was attaching it to the defense spending bill.
Ira Mehlman says, “The public has consistently rejected the idea of amnesty for illegal aliens and Reid is doing this through a backdoor method. He knows this legislation could never pass on its own.”
Dream Act students say it belongs in the defense bill because passage would allow them to serve in the military as Michael Nazario says he plans to do. “I want to take a step ahead and contribute to the nation at a higher level."
The Dream Act vote represents an opportunity for more than 100,000 young undocumented Arizonans but it is considered unfair amnesty to critics who denounce the defense bill amendment as pure politics.
3TV contacted both Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl but neither got back to us.
The Dream Act came up for a vote in 2007 and Sen. Kyl voted no while Sen. McCain did not vote at all.
The next vote is scheduled for Tuesday.