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Obama Vows to Press on as Senate Blocks DREAM Act

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2010 – President Barack Obama expressed disappointment today that the Senate blocked a bill that would have granted a path to citizenship for certain immigrants who serve in the military, but vowed to continue pressing for its passage.

The Senate voted 55-41 this morning in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act. However, the vote was five votes too few to break a filibuster.

The legislation would have provided a path for certain undocumented alien students to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or attend college.

Obama released a statement following today’s vote, expressing frustration that the Senate hadn’t done “what most Americans understand is best for the country.”

He reiterated his support for the bill, which the House passed last week. “It is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America,” he said. “Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts.”

Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, had pressed for passage of the legislation, noting that it would expand the pool of eligible military recruits. “The department supports those elements of the DREAM Act that provide children of nonresident immigrants a clear path to U.S. citizenship through service in the military,” he said earlier this month.

Stanley noted noncitizens’ long history of military service dating back to the Civil War. Today, about 35,000 noncitizens are members of the military, and about 5,000 to 8,000 permanent resident aliens enlist each year.

“Throughout past and current conflicts, those who are not yet citizens have answered the call to defend their adopted nation,” Stanley said. “Allowing DREAM Act-eligible youth the opportunity to serve this nation would continue this tradition of service, while expanding the market of high-quality patriotic youth, to the advantage of military recruitment and readiness.”

 

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