This was a vote on final passage of legislation allowing children (who were not born in the U.S.) of illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally.
Under the bill (which was known as the DREAM Act), such individuals must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 15 and have lived in the United States for at least five years. They must also have been 29 or younger at the time of this bill’s enactment. The bill also required that they finish high school and undergo a medical examination.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) urged support for the bill: “It [the underlying bill] is a bipartisan bill to address the plight of children who were brought to the United States as undocumented immigrants and grew up here…. they have to be less than 29 years old to even qualify. They must have lived in the United States at least for 5 years. They must have graduated from an American high school or be admitted to an institution of higher education…”
Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) urged support for the measure: “The DREAM Act would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people, who were brought to the U.S. as children, raised in this country, have excelled in our education systems, and have expressed a clear commitment to pursue higher education or military service.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) urged opposition to the bill: “The DREAM Act is a nightmare for the American people. It insults American workers, American taxpayers, and anyone who believes in the rule of law. How can we consider amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants when just last Friday, the Department of Labor reported that unemployment in America jumped up to 9.8 percent?”
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) argued: “…Make no mistake, this bill is not the American Dream. This bill is the amnesty dream. This bill will give amnesty to nearly 2 million illegal immigrants right away, while providing a pathway to amnesty to encourage millions more illegal immigrants to enter our country.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 216-198. 208 Democrats – including a majority of progressives – and 8 Republicans voted “yea.” 160 Republicans and 38 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation allowing children (who were not born in the U.S.) of illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally if they had arrived in the U.S. before the age of 15; had lived in the United States for at least five years; and fulfilled certain educational or military service requirements.