House passes 'Dream Act' with help from a few Florida Republicans
The U.S. House tonight passed the Dream Act legislation that would create a path to legal status for children of illegal immigrants, a victory for Democrats but only temporary as it faces exceedingly tough odds in the Senate. The vote was 216-198.
As expected, three South Florida Republicans -- Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- crossed party lines and voted with Democrats. All other members of the delegation voted with their respective party.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart blamed Democrats of not fixing "our broken immigration system" but said "those who stand to benefit from this bill include thousands of young adults who were raised in our country and really know no other country but America, they simply wish to pursue the American dream and have the opportunity to study, to work hard and to serve in our armed forces. They are exactly the type of people that we want in this, the United States of America.”
But most Republicans were opposed, deeming the legislation "amnesty." Said Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers:
"Congress must focus first and foremost on protecting our nation’s borders, both north and south. We need to boost interior enforcement by cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants," Mack said. "And we need to ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools and resources they need to stem illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and other crimes along our borders.
"What we shouldn’t be doing, however, is passing legislation that gives individuals who are living in this country illegally the same benefits provided to U.S. citizens. The Senate should scrap the DREAM Act and Congress should get to work on improving border security and enforcement.”
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota: "Amnesty rewards people who break our laws, and encourages more illegal immigration,” said Buchanan. “Instead of granting amnesty, Congress should secure the border and make English the official language. The DREAM Act would allow illegal aliens who are in college or the armed forces to begin changing their status and move towards naturalization. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that this bill would put approximately 2.1 million illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship. We need to focus on enforcing immigration laws that are on the books. This bill rewards and encourages the violation of our laws.”