The DREAM Act
I voted in favor of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010.
This bill gives children who are here illegally, through no fault of their own, the opportunity to come out of the shadows and gain conditional non-immigrant status, as long as they demonstrate that they can be productive members of society.
The landmark bipartisan legislation gives qualifying undocumented children, who grew up in the United States, the ability to pursue higher education and serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Several strict conditions apply. Children must:
- Have been brought to the United States as a child (15 years old or younger);
- Be 29 years old or younger;
- Have lived in the U.S. for 5 years or more;
- Have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED, or have been admitted to an institution of higher education;
- Have been a person of “good moral character,” as defined by our immigration laws;
- Have complete security and law enforcement background checks;
- Undergo a medical examination;
- Register for the Selective Service; and
- Pay a significant fee in connection with the initial application.
Participation is prohibited for those who have committed a crime or pose a public health risk. The law will not apply to children brought here illegally in the future.
We have to make meaningful distinctions among the undocumented. There is no social or economic benefit to creating an uneducated, nonparticipating underclass in U.S. society. On the contrary, we should work to integrate the children currently here with undocumented status – who have themselves committed no crime – so that they can become active contributors to this country’s economic wellbeing.
Boosting Hispanic-Owned Small Businesses
I obtained funding for a program that will provide valuable tools to women and minorities as they work to be successful entrepreneurs. Thanks to my efforts, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando received $220,000 to expand small business training and assistance throughout Central Florida.
Bilingual Housing Counseling
I wrote and passed an amendment increasing -- by fifty percent -- Spanish-language counseling to help people save their homes.
Spanish Books For Our Libraries
I requested, and received, $500,000 in federal funds for Spanish-languages books and magazines for Orange County libraries. This is the first Congressional "earmark" for the Latino community in Orange County history. Libraries are for everyone. With over a quarter of Orange County now Latino, it's time that the Latino community enjoys our libraries as much as anyone else.
Congratulating Justice Sotomayor
At the White House, I told Sonya Sotomayor, face-to-face, how proud I am that she is now a Supreme Court Justice. We both grew up near Bronx Park, in New York City. I am particularly happy that we have a Puerto Rican leader who embraces her heritage. Justice Sotomayor is truly a 'wise Latina.' She embodies the diversity that makes America great.
Justice In Vieques
In Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, the land and water have been poisoned by debris from a military bombing range. The mess has caused people of Vieques to suffer terribly, from cancer and other diseases. I have demanded that the military accept responsibility for the harm it has caused, and help to ease the suffering of the victims in Vieques.
Honoring Puerto Rican Veterans
I changed the Committee on Service legislation to require the Committee to take the testimony of Puerto Rican veterans on the impact of military service on family life. I also helped to honor the Borinqueneers with a Congressional Gold Medal.