Sen. Jon Tester, the Democratic senator from Montana who was elected in 2006 with significant help from progressives, was one of the Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act today, and it's very disappointing to see the lame rationale he provided yesterday via email.
Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement in advance of his vote against the DREAM Act:
“Illegal immigration is a critical problem facing our country, but amnesty is not the solution. I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.”
The Senate is expected to vote on the DREAM Act Saturday. Tester voted against the measure in 2007.
C&L's managing editor, David Neiwert called Tester's office (Yes, we make the calls too) and confronted them over his idiocy and that is indeed his position.
Andrew Simpson wrote a piece called: The DREAM Act is Not Amnesty.
As members of Congress debate the DREAM Act once again, opponents of the act are again attacking the legislation as “backdoor amnesty.” Instead of allowing ourselves to be caught up in such broad rhetoric, we must understand that the DREAM Act is neither backdoor, nor is it amnesty.
Amnesty is defined as “a general pardon for offenses, esp. political offenses, against a government.” The Greek root of the word, amnestia, refers to the process of forgetting. An alternative definition of amnesty may, therefore, be “a forgetting and forgiveness of sins.” By such a definition, we can see the message of the gospel as one that grants us amnesty by Christ.
Regardless of where we differ on the benefits or demerits of amnesty, let us be thoughtful and discern enough to realize that the DREAM Act is not amnesty. Rather, it is an extension of grace to a very specific group of people who did not knowingly commit a crime against the United States.
If the DREAM Act passes this year, it would only provide a path to citizenship for those immigrants who meet a very strict set of requirements. The only immigrants who would be eligible would be those who came to the United States at the age of 15 or younger; have lived continuously in the United States since before 2005; were under the age of 30 on the date of enactment; demonstrate good moral character (i.e. prove they have not committed any crimes that would make them inadmissible to the country as determined by existing immigration law); and have graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, served in the military, or have been admitted to an institution of higher education in the United States...read on
Tester should actually read the bill instead of reciting Pat Buchanan talking points our way. And he could check out his own constituents and see what they can accomplish, like Carlos. If a state like Texas can pass a DREAM Act then what's Tester's problem?
The quality of Texas' future will be determined by our state's ability to educate the next generation of students. Fortunately, Texas has enacted important legislation that recognizes the contributions of all students. It's now time for Congress to follow suit. In 2001, Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 1403 into law after the bill passed the Senate with zero no votes. House Bill 1403 by former Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, now called the Texas Dream Act, has proven to be an incredibly successful law providing access to higher education for students who may otherwise be unable to afford the increasing cost of attending college. Texas law currently provides that all students, regardless of immigration status, may qualify for in-state tuition at Texas colleges or universities provided they have lived in Texas the three years leading up to high school graduation and resided in Texas the year prior to their enrollment in higher education.
The Texas Dream Act thus recognizes that immigrant students who have been educated in our Texas public schools have strong family, community and economic ties to the U.S. The state then follows through on the investment taxpayers have made in their education by allowing them to pay the same tuition rate as other Texans who meet the residency timeline requirements. These students have been admitted to colleges and universities based on their merit and despite the many obstacles with which they are confronted — a principle every Texan can appreciate. The law is both successful and popular because it reduces dropouts, encourages access to college and comes at little expense to the state.
Dave N.: Even more troubling to me is Tester's rationale, particularly the second sentence in his statement:
I do not support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for anyone in this country illegally.
Really? Then, by definition, Senator, you support the deportation of 12 million people from our shores. Because realistically speaking, that's the only choice available. And we hope you've thought about what doing that would make this country look like -- not to mention the economic wreckage that would ensue.
Maybe, Senator, the problem is that this country has an economy that generates hundreds of thousands of unskilled-labor jobs every year (up until Republicans wrecked the economy, it was well north of 500,000) and yet issues only 5,000 green cards to cover them. Being a farmer and all, that's something you ought to know a little about. You should also know that a lot of your fellow farmers would prefer to be straight with the law -- but don't have a lot of choice, since farm labor is just about impossible to find outside the non-immigrant population, irrespective of wages.
It's a broken system, and you know it, Senator. But deporting 12 million people won't solve it. Indeed, the DREAM Act wouldn't solve it -- it would have at best simply ameliorated some of the more noxious aspects of the system's dysfunction. But at least it would have done that -- and given us some hope that the next Senate could begin the long hard work of fixing it. Now? Fuggedaboutit.
Badly played, Senator. And deeply disappointing.