Although the controversial immigration DREAM Act failed to pass through the Senate last week, the support that the bill garnered in the House was enough to make Archbishop Jose Gomez, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, “confident” that the legislation will succeed in the near future.
Despite the U.S. bishops endorsing the the DREAM Act – a bill that would grant citizenship to many children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents – the measure was defeated in the U.S. Senate on Dec. 18 after supporters failed to muster enough votes to block a filibuster.
Sixty votes were needed to end the filibuster, but proponents could only gather 55, with 41 senators voting to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote before the full Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives, however, had earlier passed the bill on a 216-198 vote.
The act's full title is the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. It would have allowed young people who entered the United States before the age of 16 to apply for legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship, as long as they finish high school, have no criminal record, have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and complete two years of college or military service.
While Democrats largely supported the measure, Republicans had criticized it for encouraging illegal immigrants to bring their children across unsecured borders.
Archbishop Gomez said in a Dec. 21, statement, however, that because of the widespread approval the bill had among most U.S. representatives and a significant show of support among senators, “it is clear that a majority of Congress and of the American public support this common-sense humanitarian measure.”
“I am confident that one day – sooner rather than later – the DREAM Act will become the law of the land.”
Archbishop Gomez extended his thanks to congressional leaders who supported the legislation but also expressed sadness over its current failure.
“My heart goes out to the thousands of young people who would have been helped by the DREAM Act and were disappointed by the Senate action,” he said. “We will continue to work so that one day soon you will have the opportunity to become Americans.”
“The U.S. Catholic bishops will continue to advocate for humane immigration reform, so that we can attain an immigration system that properly balances the need to protect our national sovereignty with our obligation to honor fundamental human rights.”
Archbishop Gomez underscored the need for more “education” to ensure that “Catholics, as well as all Americans, fully understand the humanitarian consequences of a broken immigration system, especially on families.”