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The Dream Act. The troops. And why Bill Nelson is tough to beat

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has a knack for finding the 50 percent plus 1 formula that seems to guarantee a win. The case of Navy Reserves Petty Officer Elisha Dawkins a perfect example of how Nelson does it.

Dawkins has been in a downtown Miami lockup for more than a month on a felony charge for not disclosing in a 2006 U.S. Passport application that he started to apply for a passport three years earlier. Even the lock-em-up U.S. Attorney's Office is a little nervous about the case. So it has offered a rare chance to settle the case, as the Miami Herald reported.

Nelson took to the Senate floor, highlighted the outrage and said it underscored the need for a path-to-citizenship law like the so-called Dream Act. Politically speaking, this is at least a two-fer for Nelson; he can stand up for the troops and support an immigration reform that won't outrage Hispanics, one of the fastest-growing electoral demographics in the state:

A federal indictment says the serviceman failed to acknowledge he'd once applied for a passport when filling out a new application - something prosceutors call passport fraud; something his public defender calls an innocent oversight.

Mr. Dawkins now faces up to 10 years in prison, if he's convicted.

All John Dillinger served in prison was 8 ½ years on a conviction for assault and battery with intent to rob and conspiracy to commit a felony.

According to his lawyer, he came to this country from the Bahamas when he was just a kid.  His mother brought him here.  And he’s still not a U.S. citizen....

Mr. President, some have wonder whether passage of the Dream Act might have prevented something like this from happening in the first place.  That legislation would grant legal status to some undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and who join the military.   Let’s finally pass it.

In closing, let me read from a letter to the Miami Herald editor from Sandra Wallace, of Coconut Grove, Florida.

“Elisha Dawkins … served seven years in the military in both Iraq and Guantánamo, where he … was awarded medals for his behavior, yet he’s being held in federal lockup awaiting deportation to the Bahamas.  This man thought he was a U.S. citizen because his relatives told him he was when he came here as a young child.   Our military was certainly glad to consider him a citizen.

“Mr. President, the Dream Act would allow the U.S. government to consider as a citizen someone who – like Mr. Dawkins – was brought here as a child and wants to serve in the military.  I yield the floor."