A majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, requiring undocumented immigrants to pass background checks, study English, pay taxes, and work towards full U.S. citizenship. A comprehensive immigration reform bill has recently passed the Senate, and is now up for debate in the House of Representatives.
The New York DREAM Act would allow undocumented students who meet in-state tuition requirements to access state financial aid and scholarships for higher education. It would also open 529 tuition savings accounts to all New York youth, and establish a DREAM Fund Commission to raise private funds for a college scholarship program for children of immigrants.
On June 6, 2013, the House Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act,” commonly known as the SAFE Act. This wide-ranging immigration enforcement bill would make unlawful presence in the United States a criminal act punishable with jail time, greatly expand detention of immigrants, authorize states and local governments to create their own immigration enforcement laws, and impose harsher penalties and restrictions for immigration violations, among other enforcement-related provisions. The bill, introduced by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), was the subject of a contentious committee mark up, ending in its passage out of committee on a straight party line vote of 20 to 15. The SAFE Act is one of several bills that the House leadership might offer as part of its “step-by-step” approach to immigration reform, in which various House bills addressing different aspects of the immigration system may be voted on separately.
Throughout America’s history as a nation of immigrants, there have been xenophobes and nativists expressing fear and anger about the nation’s changing face. But changing times and rough economies bring out the worst in people, from calls for mass deportation to comments from politicians who think immigrants are less than human.