DREAM Act for Illegal Immigrants Faces Key Senate Vote

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But the same study also projects the bill could add between $5 billion and $20 billion to the deficit by 2060 due to additional benefit program costs.

Opponents also warn it would add to competition for already scarce U.S. jobs.

"There are some compelling cases out there that deserve to be considered. But there are also 22 million Americans who have compelling cases, who want a job and can't find a job," said Beck. "What the DREAM Act does is add at least a couple million more workers to legally compete against the 22 million unemployed Americans."

"I realize these kids did not personally decide to break the law. Nonetheless, they represent law-breaking. How do you keep parents from doing this to their kids in the future? The DREAM Act does nothing about that," he said.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., one of the leading sponsors of the DREAM Act, has said opponents of the measure are breeding "hysteria" and that lawmakers must not overlook the costs of doing nothing.

"Let us consider the alternative to legalizing DREAM Act-eligible young people," he said last week. "The young men and women eligible for the DREAM Act will still live here but can only take jobs in the black market, probably cannot afford the high costs we charge foreign students for a college education, and are barred from serving in the military.

"We want a more educated workforce fully taxed within the legitimate economy. This is why the DREAM Act, if anything, is likely to be a net revenue generator for the federal government," he said.

Senate Democrats have been under mounting pressure to bring the DREAM Act for an up-or-down vote during the lame duck session as Hispanic and other immigrant groups have grown frustrated with Democrats and the administration for relative lack of legislative action on immigration reform under their watch.

"These are young people who have been in the country, who have invested in our education system and our communities, and are the best and the brightest. And they want to continue to invest in our nation. They want to get a college degree, they want to serve in our armed forces," said Noorani. "How much more service can we ask for from immigrants to our nation?"

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