(CNSNews.com) – Passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would be the “starting point” in legislating legal status for the millions of illegal aliens in the United States, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) indicated Tuesday.
At a press conference, he characterized the DREAM Act as his contribution to – and a stepping stone towards – “comprehensive immigration reform.”
The DREAM Act would grant legal status to aliens whose parents brought them into the country illegally as minors, if the individual is “of good moral character” and is pursuing a higher education or serving in the military.
Durbin has been a driving force behind the 10-year campaign to get the legislation enacted. It was re-introduced most recently last May.
CNSNews.com asked him Tuesday what passage of the law would mean for parents who had brought their young children into the U.S. illegally.
“It’s a very valid question,” he replied. “I support comprehensive immigration reform. I believe we need fairness and justice for everyone in the country – and I’m starting with the DREAM Act because that is my part of it.”
“But I have always made that part of the larger discussion,” he added.
Durbin said that his “friend and roommate,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), was working on “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation.
The DREAM Act, which Durbin first introduced in 2000, was his own contribution towards getting immigration legislation passed.
Durbin recalled that when the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was advocating for legislation that would grant amnesty to illegal aliens already in the United States, Kennedy often relegated his role to the DREAM Act and dismissed him from discussions.
“I didn’t want to leave but I knew that [the DREAM Act] was going to be the accepted starting point,” Durbin said. “And I want it to be a starting point.”
Tuesday’s press conference was held to announce the DREAM Act Sabbath, an event slated for the fall when participating “faith leaders” will discuss the legislation during or after religious services.
Among those present at the conference were Islamic Society of North America president Mohamed Magid, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., and Lisa Gruschcow, associate rabbi with Congregation Rodeph Shalom in New York City.
Durbin said there was a “moral argument” for making the DREAM Act law.
“Now I’m a politician not a pastor, so I tread carefully when I speak about religion,” he said. “But this much it is safe to say: The DREAM Act is built on a fundamental moral principal that is shared by all the faith traditions represented here today – that it is wrong to punish children for the actions of their parents.
“There’s an equally powerful moral argument for the DREAM Act,” he added. “Every faith tradition recognizes we have a special obligation to protect the innocent. And that’s what the DREAM Act would do.”