Commentary: DREAM Act deserves a proper debate

Thousands of U.S. students have a dream.

It's a dream they thought might move closer to reality this year through legislation giving them a path out of legal limbo.

But the U.S. Senate this week used a procedural vote to stomp on that dream, with lots of huffing and finger pointing about "playing politics" weeks before Election Day.

A bill called the Dream Act has been bouncing around Congress for a decade, bouncing like a foster child who gets platitudes but not the warm embrace of a permanent home.

The legislation would enable young people who were children when their parents brought them to the U.S. illegally to legalize their status by graduating from high school, avoiding any criminal record and attending college or serving in the military.

Estimates of potential Dream Act beneficiaries range from 700,000 to 2 million. They are students and young adults with great potential who've lived in this country at least five years -- some many years longer than that -- and consider it their home, their only home.

The bill has enjoyed bipartisan backing. Even Republicans who were unwilling to let it be debated this week claim to support a mechanism for this group of illegal immigrants to secure documentation.

But when it came down to a vote, Republicans blocked consideration.

Because it's election season, of course.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.star-telegram.com.