Federal Initiative May Aid Illegal Aliens

A bipartisan agreement may have resuscitated legislation that would extend federal student aid to some illegal aliens, according to media reports.

“On immigration, there’s been an agreement between [President-elect Barack] Obama and [Senator John] McCain to move forward on that,” Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said in an interview with the Gannett News Service last weekend.

Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has pushed the Senate to enact comprehensive immigration reform in recent years. Last June, amid a fevered debate and nation-wide protests, the Senate failed to pass a massive immigration reform act that included a provision allowing public colleges to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants.

If passed, the bill would have also opened a path to citizenship for illegal aliens who entered the country as children and who either complete two years of higher education or serve in the military.

Both provisions were also part of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a law sponsored by Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin which failed last October.

The legislation is expected to be introduced in similar form, and the bill’s proponents say they are confident of victory.

“We’ve got McCain and we’ve got a few others,” Reid said. “I don’t expect much of a fight at all.”

The effort in Congress has gained some bipartisan support from the start, with Utah Republican Orrin G. Hatch acting as one of the leading co-sponsors. The legislation stalled in the Senate late last year and was shelved, according to a Washington source, until after the 2008 elections.

Heberto Alanis, Jr. ’12, a native of Roma, Texas, which is located just a few miles from the Mexican border, said that the DREAM Act “makes a lot of sense.”

“Immigration has played a large role in making this country more diverse,” Alanis said, adding that he thinks that offering higher education opportunities and amnesty to children of illegal immigrants can only help the country grow.

Harvard officials could not be reached for comment by press time last night.