U.S. Senate Filibusters DREAM Act Proposal to Legalize and Educate Immigrant Children

Texas provides in-state tuition for undocumented college students.  So do Utah, Nebraska and a total of ten states, accounting for over 50 percent of the estimated population of undocumented children in the country.

Yet a Senate filibuster again deferred the dreams of immigrant children across the nation, as a Sept. 21st vote of 56-43 to enact the DREAM Act (along with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell) as amendments to a critical Defense Authorization Bill failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority.     

Polls have shown 70 percent of American voters support the DREAM Act, so the vote was seen as a disappointing turn for the bipartisan proposal, which would put nearly one million undocumented high school graduates who meet a series of stringent requirements (including completing two years of college or enlisting in the military) on a path to citizenship.  In addition, the bill would protect the authority of states to extend in-state college and university tuition rates to undocumented high school graduates who wish to pursue higher education.  Roughly 65,000 undocumented youth who graduate from high school every year are estimated to benefit from the proposal.

States See Budget Savings from Enacting Tuition Equity Laws: In fact, a diverse set of states -- including California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin - are ahead of the federal curve on allowing undocumented students to pay the same tuition rates as their US citizen and legal permanent resident classmates.  Earlier this year, the Utah State Legislature backed away from efforts to repeal the state's in-state tuition law after an economic analysis showed the state would lose $1.5 million in tuition revenue as it battled a monumental budget deficit, underlining how college tuition and fees paid by undocumented college students can be critical to state budgets.

In addition to supporting plunging state budgets with much-needed tuition revenue, allowing undocumented young people access to higher education creates economic opportunity and generates tax revenue for states and the federal government.  Research has shown that extending educational opportunity to immigrant youth significantly increases their earnings, which ultimately results in increased tax revenues from higher incomes. For example, a College Board report cites a RAND Institute study that found a 30-year old Mexican immigrant woman with a college degree will pay $5,300 more in taxes and use $3,900 less in government expenses each year compared to a counterpart who didn't complete high school.