The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced in September 2010 by Illinois Senator Richard Durbin. DREAM has also been proposed multiple times in the past. The bill seeks to give undocumented minors the ability to attend higher education institutions that would otherwise be out of their reach. The bill would ensure that undocumented students could pay in-state tuition, which they are normally barred from due to their residence status. The bill was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act which proposed defense spending for the year 2011 and included the proposed repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. The act failed to receive the majority vote in the senate and is subject to intense political debate.
Obama asserted his position on the DREAM act in his September 15th speech at the Congressional Hispanic Institute. The president claimed that he would do “whatever it takes” to get the bill passed through congress. He blamed partisan politics for hindering much needed immigration reform, even though many republicans had once supported the bills they now have forsaken. In the wake of the controversial Arizona immigration law, Obama called for a more practical effort through reform. Misunderstanding of the issues was attributed to causing the intense republican vs. democrat debate. He says that the issue was not an amnesty or widespread immigration crack-down debate, but it was a comprehensive and somewhat united approach that was severely misinterpreted.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid also shared his support for the DREAM act on CSPAN. He expressed the sentiments mentioned by the president, that the ability to produce comprehensive immigration reform has become very difficult. Again, the issue of partisan politics is stated as the obstacle holding back reform.
There had been an outcry against the growing Secure Communities program. A San Francisco Weekly blog reports that the Washington state police department opted out of the program. Local departments could still participate, but the State department did not want to take up immigration duties. The blog states that San Francisco desperately wanted to drop out of the program, but has been unable to do so. The blog article then cites San Francisco police chief and sheriff Hennessey as both being opposed to the program. They felt that the program discouraged interaction between immigrants and the police.
Feet in 2 Worlds, a site for immigrant news, produced an article about the Secure Communities program in New York. The article quoted the information director for the NY Division of Criminal Justice Services, John Caher. Caher make it clear that New York was especially interested in deterring national security threats, and supported the Secure Communities program to achieve that goal. Despite state support, various minority advocacy groups stated their concerns over the problem. Their concerns included the facts that the majority of deportations that result from the program are for minor crimes and that the program would damage relations between immigrants and the authorities.
Deportation Nation, a site that investigates immigrant discrimination, focuses heavily on the secure communities program. In a September article, the site focused on Napolitano’s off hand claim that departments could opt out of the program. Advocates were unimpressed with the government’s vague information regarding opting out of the program. The failed attempt to opt out by San Francisco was brought up and blame was attributed to ICE, who has failed to respond to petitions to opt out by sheriff Henessy.
The Secure Communities program was created by the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to expel dangerous criminals that were also illegal aliens. The program relies on local law enforcement to supply fingerprint information of those arrested to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. ICE then identifies whether or not the criminal is an illegal alien and how serious their crimes are. Based on this prioritization of the most threatening offenders the federal agency works with local law enforcement to arrange for the expulsion of the criminal. The Department of Homeland Security has a blog that features an update on the success of the program. The page explains more about the program and gives statistics of criminals caught and identified so far. The blog post focuses on this data in justifying the program’s success.
The program affects a handful of states, but originated in Texas. The Wall Street Journal reports on the varied opinions coming out of the state regarding the issue. Minority groups are worried about increasing deportation efforts while law enforcement officials are very pleased with the success of the program. The big picture of the program is framed as the article links Secure Communities to influences on Obama’s popularity amongst Latino communities and the controversy of the Arizona immigration laws. In comparison to the Arizona law, this program is portrayed as less intrusive as it requires no additional enforcement from local authorities.
Meanwhile City Room, a New York Times blog, introduces readers to Eligio Valerio, a man who was targeted for deportation years after a minor crime. Valerio emigrated from the Dominican Republic, but was threatened to be returned when investigators stumbled upon his record. The episodic article describes the man’s history and then his dramatic release where he was greeted by his family. The post ends with a reference to the Secure Communities program, which is not instituted in New York yet. Valerio’s supporters fear that the program will only cause more problems for legal immigrants like Valerio.