DREAM Act Passes In Virginia House Committee | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

DREAM Act Passes In Virginia House Committee

But bill's future still unclear after Senate committee's 'no' vote

Play associated audio
Virginia Sens. Adam Ebbin and Don McEachin make the case for the DREAM Act type bill in committee Thursday. The bill ultimately failed in the education committee, 8-7.
Armando Trull
Virginia Sens. Adam Ebbin and Don McEachin make the case for the DREAM Act type bill in committee Thursday. The bill ultimately failed in the education committee, 8-7.

A DREAM Act-type bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrant students in Virginia to pay in-state tuition to state universities had a rough day Thursday as a Senate committee voted it down but a House of Delegates committee approved the measure. 

The Virginia Senate Education Committee defeated the DREAM Act bill 8-7 Thursday. The House version of the bill was reported out of House subcommittee Wednesday, making it the first time in five years such a bill passed out of any committee.

The Senate measure failed along party lines, with the committee's eight Republicans voting against it. The 'no' vote could essentially kill the bill for this year because the committee would have to send it to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill's supporters, including Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield), made a passionate case for the bill.

"If you vote against it, you're just standing against the tide of history," Saslaw said. 

But Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) wasn't as concerned with history as  with whether or not students granted lawful presence in America were here legally.

"A simple read of this would suggest that these are illegally present," McWaters pointed out during the meeting.

Sen. Donald McEachin, who sponsored the Senate version of the DREAM bill, was disappointed after the early morning vote.

"I think it sends a very unfortunate message that Virginia's not yet ready for prime time when it comes to fair treatment of its children," said Sen. Donald McEachin (D) after the vote. "I'm disappointed that it broke down along party lines and I'm sad that the GOP hasn't yet opened up its heart to all of our children."

McEachin said that he hopes the failure of the measure will lead to more activism at the polls during the off-year 2013 election than usual.

"Because I think that Virginians need to send a message to our legislators that we're better than this … that we're going to embrace all of our children," McEachin said. "That those children who qualify for admission to our in-state university who live here, pay taxes here or their parents pay taxes here, ought to be eligible for instate tuition. It's only fair. Virginians — and Virginia — are better than this."

Tran Ngyen, who works with Virginia New Majority and is a supporter of the bill, isn't giving up hope on a DREAM Act for Virginia.

"I have to be hopeful that good policy will always prevail," she said. "This is a setback, but it's not a death knell."

The House version of the bill is still  alive after clearing two committees,  but the measure  is now in the House Appropriations committee, where some fear it was sent to die. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) says he will push to get the measure to a vote on the House floor.

"This has the votes to pass. We just need to have our hearing on the floor, and I know we can get this done for the first time ever in Virginia," he said. If the measure gets to the full House and passes, it could be revived in the Senate.

NPR

The Perfect Family Book List

For the holidays, critic Alan Cheuse is making up a list of books to give to each of his family members. Only the best of 2014 for them. Here's his picks.
NPR

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

Two classic Christmas dishes beloved by the people of Guyana are pepperpot and garlic pork. To get the flavors just right, you have to cook them and let them sit out for weeks.
NPR

With New Congress, Will Obama Work Differently?

The GOP-led Congress President Obama will have to deal with for the last two years of his presidency is a stark contrast to the Democratic-led one he came in with. Does that mean Obama will change his approach to dealing with Capitol Hill?
NPR

2014 Hashtags: #BringBackOurGirls Made Nigerian Schoolgirls All Of 'Ours'

As part of a series on hashtag activism in 2014, Audie Cornish speaks with Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Open Society Foundation. Ezekwesili was one of the early promoters of the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, about schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria in April.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.