BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said Monday that a federal proposal to allow illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship through college or military service amounts to amnesty, and claimed that supporters of the measure were “playing politics with military funding.”
The Massachusetts Republican said he was upset that the so-called DREAM Act might be included in a defense bill.
“I am opposed to illegal immigration, and I am deeply disappointed that Washington politicians are playing politics with military funding in order to extend a form of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants,” Brown said in a statement, while undocumented students rallied outside his Boston office in support of the measure.
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Brown made the comments as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is seeking to add the legislation to a defense bill. Some military leaders who believe it would help with recruitment support the proposal. But some Republicans oppose it and are accusing Reid of playing politics.
Under the proposal, conditional legal status would be granted to young undocumented immigrants who successfully complete high school or the equivalent. They could qualify for permanent legal residency by enrolling in college or a trade school or by joining the military within six years.
A vote on the defense bill may come as early as Tuesday.
Brown’s comments come after months of pressure by student immigrant activists and various immigrant advocacy groups that wanted the senator to commit to passing a bill strongly supported by the man he replaced, the late-Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Democrat. Student activists have pushed letter writing campaigns and phone calls to Brown and staged protests and sit-ins outside his Boston office.
“He’s missing the point. There are real people here,” said Deivid Ribeiro, 21, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil and an aspiring astronaut. “He’s the one who is playing politics by not addressing the issue. It’s irresponsible of him.”
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This story first ran in Associated Press on September 21, 2010.