Key day for DREAM Act goes awry
Updated at 4:20 p.m
Both the DREAM Act and the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" in the military will have to wait for their respective turns in the Senate after midterm elections. This is due to the Republican-led blockade that did not allow the defense bill to even be debated on Tuesday.
Following the vote, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said that this move was preventing thousands of willing immigrants to sacrifice their lives for this country by joining the military.
"Where is the justice in this decision? At least have the courage to let us bring this matter to the floor, and stand up and vote ‘No.’ But to hide behind this procedural ruse – this unanimous consent request – is totally unfair," he said.
Under the most current version of the bill, beneficiaries would be required to graduate from a two-year community college or complete at least two years towards a 4-year degree, or serve two years in the U.S. military.
Local DREAMActivist María Marroquín said that this was a wake-up call for their movement.
"This hasn’t killed the DREAM Act," she said. "We know there are Republican senators who support it and that means we have to present it as a stand-alone bill."
Marroquín was part of a delegation of DREAMers that made its way to Washington D.C. to lobby in support of the act. They were also present during the Senate session.
"As the Senators were casting their votes we were hopeful but in the end we were sad of the outcome," she said. "This only means we have to keep on working hard. And those who haven’t called their senators should do it because the life of thousands of students depend on every single phone call."
Updated at 3:37 p.m.
After learning how Senate Republicans blocked further debate and voting on the defense bill that includes the DREAM Act and the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" in the military, David Bennion, staff attorney at Nationalities Service Center, said the fight is not over.
"This should not be the end of the road for the DREAM Act. Senate Democrats should bring it forward as a standalone bill to give GOP Senators like Senator [Robert] Bennett from Utah a chance to vote for it as they’ve promised they would," he said.
Updated at 3:01 p.m.
The votes are finally in: 56 in favor to 43 against. Democrats needed 60 votes, with at least 1 Republican, for the bill to move forward. Floor is open for reconsideration. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) is speaking in favor of the DREAM Act.
Updated at 2:45 p.m.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call that passage of the DREAM Act was "the right thing to do".
"Earlier today, I sent a letter stating my full support for the DREAM Act," he said. "Is not only the right thing to do for students, it also the right thing for our country. There’s no reason it shouldn’t pass now. The DREAM Act means more young people will contribute in the development and help this country."
Right now, Senators are voting on whether to move forward with the National Defense Authorization Act and start debating the two amendments: the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy and an immigration measure, the DREAM Act.
Updated at 2:38 p.m.
Senators are reconvening after their weekly meetings. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is speaking in support of the DREAM Act.
Updated at 1:10 p.m.
As the Senators left the floor for their weekly meetings, it is still uncertain if Democrats have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster and move forward the National Defense Authorization Act.
This procedural vote would allow for two amendments to be debated: the repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy and an immigration measure, the DREAM Act.
This morning on C-Span, The Hill reporter Roxana Tiron explained what the bill faces in today’s vote.
With the vote looming, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC issued a press release saying they will help defeat the act by tracking down what politicians support it.
"We are directing our activists against amnesty to contact every US Senate campaign in America today to determine which candidates oppose or support Obama and Reid’s Dream Act Amnesty amendment," said ALIPAC President William Gheen. "We intend to track which Senate candidates support or oppose this Amnesty attempt and remind them all that voters will defeat any candidate unwise enough to support this Amnesty ambush!"
On the other hand, labor organization Jobs With Justice joined forces with those supporting the bill and urged people to call Senators and tell them to vote in favor of both amendments.
The vote is scheduled for today at 2:15 p.m. and will be broadcast live on C-SPAN2.
On Sunday, support for the bill came from a somewhat unexpected corner. And that’s because former Secretary of State Colin Powell came out publicly in support of the proposal in an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press.
"America is going to be a minority nation in one more generation. Our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. Fifty percent of our minority kids are not finishing high school. We’ve got to invest in education. We should use the DREAM Act as one way to do it,” Powell said.
Passage of the Dream Act would provide “a great return on money we’ve already invested, and it encourages economic growth,” Villaraigosa said.
Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced that he would attach the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.