Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 23, 2010

GOP STILL HOPES TO KILL DREAM ACT.... Under saner political circumstances, the Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) would pass easily. It was written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), was endorsed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and enjoys the enthusiastic backing of most Democrats, immigrant advocates, and the Obama White House.

Alas, sanity is in short supply.

Every year, tens of thousands of young illegal immigrants graduate from American high schools, but are quickly stuck -- they can't qualify for college aid, and they can't work legally. America is the only home they've ever known -- in most cases, they were, at a very young age, brought into the country illegally by their parents -- but at 18, they have few options.

The DREAM Act provides a path to citizenship for these young immigrants -- graduate from high school, get conditional permanent residency status, go to college or serve in the military, and become eligible for citizenship.

But as Republicans have moved sharply to the right, their attitudes on the bill have shifted, too. Hatch and McCain, for example, have gone from championing the Dream Act to opposing it. And what was once a bipartisan, common-sense effort at decency has become a prime right-wing target.

Senate Republicans and their conservative allies are sharpening their attacks on the proposed DREAM Act that would provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, declaring it would give "amnesty" to millions -- some of them criminals.

The legislation, which would apply to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, has been overshadowed by other big-ticket items on the lame-duck congressional calendar. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are now pushing for votes on it this year.

"This is about accountability, not amnesty," said a White House official who's been closely monitoring the DREAM Act. "It will take a few Republicans to get this through Congress, but they have to realize we can't keep kicking the can down the road. They have to help govern and to solve some of the problems."

They don't want to.

The push, by the way, comes on the heels of an announcement that one of the first issues the new House Republican majority will tackle next year is an obviously unconstitutional bill to end birthright citizenship. It's as if the GOP has decided to alienate as many minority communities as humanly possible.

As for the DREAM Act, it's also worth noting Republicans may get at least a little help from a conservative Democrat. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who's said he opposes filibusters on motions to proceed, has said he'll back the Republicans' filibuster on the motion to proceed.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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In a just world, we'd uncover that Ben Nelson is actually Ali Bin Nelli, whose parents brought him here from Somalia, and he'd be the first person sent back.
He should be stripped of all his cash to help our deficit, which, economic hawk that he is, he should willingly give up. Tight?
Except it ain't a just world...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 23, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

In that world of justice we would only hear about the new clown at McDonald's , when the memory of the dulcet whisper of the great statesman is resurrected .

Posted by: FRP on November 23, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

If folks think the last two years of Nelson have been annoying, get ready, because with his term up in 2012, the guy is going to move so far right the John Birch Society will have a problem with it.

Posted by: NHCt on November 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Why are there no repercussions for Nelson to constantly filibuster with the GOP? At the very least, he ought to pay some kind of price in terms of committee assignments and campaign cash.

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi on November 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Find a solid Democrat and turn him out in the primary. We can't keep looking back to see who is with us and who is against us.

Ben ought to talk to Ike Skelton about the fate of Blue Dogs. Ike tried the more Republican than the average Republican tact. It didn't work. The Republicans ran a real Republican against him and he lost after 17 terms of bringing home the bacon for his district.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 23, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

If McCain, Hatch, and Lugar support it, why is the threat to filibuster the motion an issue? Don't you get to 60 without the republican in democrat clothing Nelson?

AndI went to a forum on immigration here in Utah last week. A very powerful, pretty conservative [but a real conservative, not one of the new breed of idiots] state senator who clearly backs the DREAM act sounded pretty wistful in discussing these issues. He clearly felt that parts of his party is going off the rails -even though he wouldn't come right out and say it .... He was very articulate in his concerns that we are creating an underclass of people who will be victims of fraud, crimes, scams, and we are pushing more people underground, off the books, etc...

Posted by: bigutah on November 23, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Gonna be a long two years.

Posted by: sparrow on November 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

By first, middle, and last name these above mentioned Senate Republicans can expect history to be very unkind!

For we are hungry, and they feed us not!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 23, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Find a solid Democrat"

In the Husker State of Nebraska? He might become tired of counting all of his money from Big Insurance, retire, and be replaced by Bo Pelinni.

Any "solid Democrat" in that very Red state has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Remember, Steve King represents Omaha "East".

Posted by: berttheclock on November 23, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Senator Hatch understands both our legislative processes and the over-riding objective of denying Obama any political wins. Pretending to cooperate in designing legislation, making the process drag out, and then preventing the legislation from being voted on are skillful usages of the process that add to the objective. He is to be commended for his skillful work!

Senator McCain should not be blamed for his actions. He has demonstrated 'flexible beliefs' that will conform to current political needs. He has been consistent in this throughout his political career.

Senator Nelson is NOT a hypocrite! He is just one of many democrat senators that are corporately owned. Our corporately/wealthy owned democrat senators take turns helping to kill or water down legislation that have the potential of making Obama look good. That is what we own them for!

We republicans do not need the brown vote. The ones that we do not need to take care of our lawns and our golf courses and who are not employed by our businesses SHOULD be run out of the country. It makes our low information voter base happy that we take these actions.

We republicans do not need the brown vote. The ones that we do not run out of the country can be intimidated into voting in such low quantities that they are of no substance to voting outcomes.

We republicans do not need the brown vote. In future elections, with our overwhelming ability to buy elections we assure the outcomes that we desire and the small percentage of voters who are knowledgeable will continue to subside into no relevance to outcomes.

Rest assured, we will continue to have 'democrats' in the House and Senate. It is in our interests to maintain the pretense of a 'two' party system. In the future, we will just assure that there are very few democrat senators and congressmen that we do not own.

God bless America!
God bless our Supreme Court and our Citizens United Not Timid vs FEC ruling!!!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 23, 2010 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

What we need to deal with the Ben Nelsons of the party is adopt a 50 state strategy where we spend actual money growning the party in Red States from school boards on up.

Oh, I know what you are thinking, we tried that and it worked, but Obama rewarded Howard Dean by firing him and installing Keine, a shrinking state Democrat if ever there was one. I guess we are screwed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

One of the real life examples of this immigration problem is a young man in the Portland, OR area. He was brought to the US, as a three month old baby, by his parents from Mexico. He grew up going through the school system, including graduating from a community college. He went into the Iron Workers Union and became a top assistant for a friend of ours. He married, had children, bought a home and was living the "American Dream", when, somehow, his name was given to ICE. He was arrested and has been forced to return to Mexico, where he knows no one. "Oh, he took jobs away from true Americans", the rabid right cries. Yeah, ever soooo many true Americans want to work at on tall buildings handling and installing steel. Under this ridiculous law, the judge had no option, but, to order his deportation. No extenuating circumstances were allowed.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 23, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Actually I'm a little confused about the DREAM act...is it a "one time only" meaning only the group of young people age 16-35 right now (and who meet the other conditions) are eligible? Or, would it be "policy" meaning that it would apply to future generations?

Posted by: BChang on November 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, bertheclock; I admit i am ignorant of the laws involved, but can't his CHILDREN, as American citizens, bring him back here, as a 'close relative'? Just askin'.

Posted by: DAY on November 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, DAY, I don't know, but, I will ask our friend if there has been any word about his new status. For our friend, he was not only one of his top workers, but, he was a close friend, so, I'm sure he has kept in touch with him.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

You gotta love how Politico just takes a set of Republican talking points on the DREAM Act and then posts them verbatim in their article, without any independent analysis of the facts. They even post a link to the talking points memo from Jeff Sessions for god's sake.

Posted by: Sam on November 23, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

@BChang - it's a one-time deal; the idea behind DREAM is that it's a quick fix for students, followed up by full immigration reform so that this doesn't become necessary again. The initial legislation introduced in 2000 was 15-25; DREAM's only been widened to cover those who've "aged out."

@DAY - No. Deportation brings with it a ten-year ban on entry into the US; family reunification visa applications will be killed immediately once they see "previously deported" on his file. Add to this the 20-year backlog for nonwhite immigrants and the gentleman from Portland is pretty screwed.

There's a pretty big chance DREAM will pass, though - the students are ready to hunger strike and sit-in Senators offices for this.

Posted by: Sook on November 23, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Sook, Thanks for the info.

Posted by: BChang on November 23, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

This is NOT a common-sense effort at decency. This is unjust and which does nothing for Americans. Only the illegals now has more benefits than the avg. American! This is an outrage. We might as well allow all young living human beings from Red China or India into the country and give them a high school education & then college. WE already have thousands of LIBERAL students (mine you) who are rioting in the streets of California because of high tuition costs! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE, IT'S NOT JUSTICE. Sent the illegals back where their own Governments can give them FREE educations and benefits.

Posted by: Rob on November 24, 2010 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

If they serve in the military, then of course they should be eligible for citizenship. But going to college? How is that a sacrifice for their would-be country? I'm open to suggestions for those who are not qualified to serve in the military for whatever reason - they should do whatever conscientious objectors used to do, empty bedpans or whatever. But going to college? That makes no sense.

Posted by: DBL2 on November 24, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK



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