Sen. Durbin goes to bat for children of illegal immigrants
by erin kelly June 28, 2011 8:34PM
Senator Dick Durbin after a press confrence where he and other members of Congress pledged to fight for federal funding promised for the "Englewood Flyover" at the intersection of the Rock Island and Norfolk Southern railroads. February 24, 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: June 29, 2011 2:12AM
WASHINGTON — Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), trying to revive the legislation that has been under consideration by Congress for a decade, on Tuesday urged his Senate collegues to work to pass the Dream Act.
The Dream Act, which would allow some children of illegal immigrants to become legal residents and eventually citizens if they attend college or serve in the U.S. military, has never passed both chambers in the same session.
Durbin presided Tuesday over the first public Senate hearing the bill has ever had.
“I ask my colleagues to consider the plight of these young people who find themselves in a legal twilight zone through no fault of their own,” Durbin said. “They are willing to serve our country if we would only give them a chance.”
Ola Kaso, who graduated from high school this month in Warren, Mich., said she was brought to the U.S. from Albania when she was 5, has been accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Michigan and dreams of becoming a cancer surgeon. But she faces possible deportation in less than a year because she is not a legal resident and is not eligible to become one.
“I am American in my heart,” Kaso told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “There are thousands of other dreamers just like me. All we are asking for is a chance to contribute to the country we love.”
Chances are slim that the current Congress will pass the Dream Act, which House leaders have denounced as a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Critics said the legislation is too broadly written and could encourage more illegal immigration by parents hoping their children would get the same break.
The legislation would allow immigrants under age 35 at the time of the bill’s passage to obtain conditional legal status if they can prove they were 15 years or younger when they came to the United States, have lived here continuously for at least five years, have displayed good moral character, have never been convicted of a felony, and have graduated from a U.S. high school or been accepted into a college or university.
Gannett News Service