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Immigration End Game: DREAM Act Defeated in the Senate

4 years ago
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The Senate failed to overcome a bipartisan filibuster against the DREAM Act Saturday, by a vote of 55 to 41, just five short of the 60 needed to advance the immigration bill to a final debate in the chamber.

The controversial measure had been the last hope of immigration activists looking this year to pass even a scaled-back bill expanding access to citizenship. Had it passed the Senate, the legislation would have given young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they completed two years of college or two years in the military. To qualify, children of immigrants also would have had to come to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have lived here longer than five years.

The DREAM Act was also the top priority for the Latino community after it became clear that comprehensive immigration reform would not be politically viable, even in a Congress controlled by huge Democratic majorities and with a president who promised as a candidate to pass a plan during his first year in office.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)Despite the high expectations, Democratic leaders were not optimistic going into the vote Saturday, having been forced to table the measure last week when it became clear it would fall short of the three-fifths majority needed to end a filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had accused Majority Leader Harry Reid of wasting the Senate's time on "show votes."

In a heated debate before the vote Saturday, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the bill's sponsor, described it as a compassionate solution for children of illegal immigrants who never made the choice on their own to come to the United States.

It is about "whether the United States Senate will stand by thousands of children in America who live in the shadows and dream of greatness," Durbin said. "This is the only country they have ever known. All they are asking for is a chance to serve this nation."

Durbin was joined by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said that the 65,000 children of illegal immigrants who graduate from American high schools every year would be able to do more for the country of the Senate passed the bill.

"Now reaching adulthood, these young people are left with a dead end. They can't use their education, they can't serve their country," she said. "They are relegated to the shadows by their status."

But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees immigration policy, opposed the bill and called it unrestricted amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.

"There's been no serious move to do anything that would improve the situation of illegals at our border," he said. "Leaders in Washington have not only tolerated the lawlessness, but in fact, our policies have encouraged it."

Sessions said that illegal immigration is exposing American communities to smugglers, drug traffickers, and thieves.

"The American people are pleading with Congress to enforce our laws, but this bill at its core is a reward for illegal activity."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went to the Senate floor to say he had a message for immigrants pushing for the DREAM Act. "You are wasting your time," he said. "We are not going to pass the DREAM act or any other immigration bill [until] we secure our borders."

Durbin first introduced the DREAM Act 10 years ago and it has been considered by the Senate repeatedly over the decade.

As Harry Reid campaigned for reelection in Nevada, he promised immigration activists that he would bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote this year. But he did not promise it would pass.

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judiandsteveg

I keep hearing the phrase "comprehensive immigration reform", how about we try comprehensive immigration law ENFORCEMENT for a few years and see how that works. We dont need to change any immigration laws, we dont enforce the laws we have now.

December 18 2010 at 11:44 PM
dafish62

my wife is russian and she jumped through the hoops... like disease testing, criminal records test.. I also had to prove that I couls suport her and the tax payers wouldnt be burdened.. now I know she never harvested any grapes, but she does teach at the university..My point is if we HAVE TO FOLLOW THE LAW WHY NOT THEM??????????????????

December 18 2010 at 11:12 PM +9
DJ

Good to see our elected officials actually listening to what the people of this country want. It makes me sick that myself, at forty-two, college educated... cant find a job making more than minimum wage and cant afford health insurance. While I watch illegals getting free health care and government assistance. I pay my taxes and SSI yet I am told I dont qualify for help? I haven't spent the last twenty-seven years paying into the system to support a bunch of illegals. Close the borders, send all of them back to their respective countries, and start getting this country back on its feet.

December 18 2010 at 11:07 PM +8
yohavanadc

I am american citizen but I did not born in here......but,how I respect and love this blessed country,today I am very happy to see how our legislators act with common sense and nationalism stopping Democrats intent to reward people than do not respect our country.My vote for Republicans on 2012!!!!GOD bless USA!

December 18 2010 at 11:07 PM +8
handsome

If the children came when they were under 18, then found out they were illegal when they turned 18 and wanted to go to college. why did they not report to the police that a crime was committed?

December 18 2010 at 10:59 PM +2
atx888

All this mean is that things will continue as it is, with more illegals coming in everyday. Ten years from now the problem would double, and at some point the US will be a nation of illegal immigrants. Get this folks. The illegals are not going to leave just because your elected officials could not agree on anything.

December 18 2010 at 10:56 PM +3
edison

GE has closed or is in the process of closing six plants in the USA. Plants in Morrison & Bloomington, IL., Fort Wayne IN among them. Huge corporations and small ones have enjoyed employing Americans but have found it expensive. They found new lands where slave wages can be paid and obscene profits can be gained. They also found that paying "illegals" a minimum wage, and specially getting away with employing millions of them, was not as obscenely profitable. thatgirljdbubba1zfgjem and the rest of you, can line up for the low wage jobs coming down the pipe.

December 18 2010 at 10:56 PM
davidmhermes

It is obvious that the Right Wing element of the Republican Part is using the filibuster as it's ultimate weapon to stay in control of congress and the passing of laws like the DREAM act for children of immigrants living in the United States.

It is obvious that the Republicans are breaking the spine of this country which i based on beinga melting pot. After everyone of the members of the Republican party are not rooted in the American Indian who were the original "citizens" of this country. All there past is at some point "immigrants."

December 18 2010 at 10:37 PM -6
Rockyraimi

By blocking the Dream Act, all Rpublicans are saying is they want to maintain the status quo. Meanwhile, the illegals are going nowhere since most have established roots here, and more coming in daily. There are better ways to handle the situation other than doing nothing. Doing something doesn't have to mean mass amnesty. Create a criteria of who should be allowed to stay, and the rest have to leave voluntarily within a period of time or face criminal charges and forced deportation. Securing the border first means nothing but a delay tactic to actually do nothing. Fix the broken immigration system for good now!

December 18 2010 at 10:17 PM -2
celticfiveo

i come from legal immigrants, as most peiople in the United States do. My Great Grand Parents did well for themselves and hired mostly other Irish. They helped them get educated and become Americans first but always pround Irish. Do it right or stay home, no matter how much you have to offer.

December 18 2010 at 10:12 PM +3

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