House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to push for a vote during the lame-duck session on a bill that would legalize young, undocumented immigrants if they attend college or serve in the military, according to Democratic sources familiar with a leadership conference call Wednesday.
A vote on the bill, known as the DREAM Act, could come as early as next week, the sources said. Pelosi asked Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) to assess the mood of the caucus, according to one source.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had previously announced that he plans to bring up the DREAM Act during the lame duck session. His spokesman said Wednesday that Reid still hopes to call a vote.
The move by Democratic leaders to put immigration back on the legislative calendar will win support from Latinos, whose strong turnout numbers in the West last week were credited with helping the party hold on to control of the Senate. Immigration advocates have pressed Democrats to move on the DREAM Act as a “down-payment” on their promise to push for a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the future.
The DREAM Act, which has some bipartisan support, would allow young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, and have been here for at least five years, to earn legal status if they pass background checks, attend college or serve in the military for at least two years.
A version of the measure was first introduced in 2001 and was drafted to address the situation of children and teenage immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents and have only known the U.S. as home. Many have no family or ties to their countries of birth.