June 28, 2011

The Senate will hold its first-ever hearing on the DREAM Act Tuesday morning, nearly ten years after the proposal — which would give undocumented immigrants a path to legal status by pursuing a college degree or joining the military — was first introduced.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will join Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano and Department of Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stanley will be talking about the military benefits of passing the act.

In a teleconference with the media on Monday afternoon, Duncan acknowledged that the main purpose of the hearing is to raise awareness, and he emphasized the need to “educate Americans” on the benefits of bringing some undocumented immigrants into the workforce.

“We need to summon the courage and political will (to pass it),” Duncan said. “We need the human potential.”

The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been introduced in every Congressional session since 2001 — sometimes as a standalone bill, and sometimes as a part of other legislation — and failed each time. It was re-introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, in May.

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