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U.S. Senator Harry Reid on the DREAM Act and the Colombia and Panama FTAs

February 24, 2011

Americas Quarterly: In your re-election campaign, you spoke about the need to pass the dream Act and its pathway to authorized status for the children of undocumented immigrants to attend college or to serve in the military. Why?
Senator Reid: We cannot continue to kick the immigration problem down the road. We tried twice last year [2010] to pass the dream Act as a stepping stone toward comprehensive immigration reform. We started with the dream Act in part because it is a measure that is bipartisan in origin (co-authored by Orrin Hatch, R-UT), and many Republicans in the last Senate had voted for it before. Unfortunately, when we presented it again at the end of 2010, all but three Republicans opposed it. The dream Act would have reduced our budget deficit, made our nation safer, and given the opportunity of a future to tens of thousands of deserving young people who want to go to college or serve their nation in the military. That is why we needed to pass the dream Act as soon as possible.

AQ: How does the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a smaller Democratic majority in the Senate affect your strategy to pass comprehensive immigration reform?

Reid: My goal is still to pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, punishes employers who exploit immigrant labor and undercut American wages, and requires those living in the shadows to register with the government, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, and then go to the back of the line.

My hope is that the Republicans will work with us on a comprehensive approach that addresses the many complex components necessary to fix our broken system.

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Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader of the United States of America and represents the state of Nevada.