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December 18, 2010

SENATE KILLS 'DREAM ACT'.... It should have been an easy one.

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 (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), which has traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support, 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, pay some steep fees, and become eligible for citizenship. The Pentagon urged Congress to pass it, and the CBO found that it lowers the deficit, a priority Republicans at least pretend to consider important.

Last week, it passed the House, and it would pass the Senate if members were allowed to vote on it. But that's not how the chamber works anymore -- this morning, as expected, Republicans blocked the vote, refused to allow majority rule, and killed the bill for the foreseeable future.

When the gavel went down, the DREAM Act had 55 supporters and 41 opponents. Because the Senate is the Senate, 41 trumps 55.

As best as I can tell, three Republicans -- Lugar (Ind.), Bennett (Utah), and Murkowski (Alaska) -- sided with the majority. Five Democrats -- Pryor (Ark.), Tester (Montana), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Baucus (Montana), and Hagan (N.C.) -- sided with the minority. [Update: Here's the roll call on the vote.]

If those five Democrats had voted for cloture, the GOP filibuster would have been defeated and the DREAM Act would be on its way towards passage.

Also note, the legislation was written in large part by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and it has enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

But that was before the Republican Party fell off the right-wing cliff -- this morning, both Hatch and McCain refused to allow senators to even vote up or down on the bill they used to champion.

Steve Benen 11:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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There are way too many cowards in the Democratic party.

Posted by: Holmes on December 18, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

This seems to me to be the fault of cowardly democrats. If they had a few Republicans sign on to this legislation then it should have passed.

Posted by: Erin on December 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

At least McCain had an excuse: Hiring illegals to be cabana boys and serving girls at his many homes and mansions is cheaper than hiring citizens.
What's the Democrat's excuse?

Shameful. Shameful in a long week of shameful, starting with the 9/11 fiasco of a vote, and the coverage, or lack thereof, except for a comedy news show.

Next: Stopping START.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should try again, but this time they should focus on other beneficiaries of the DREAM Act -- the millions of brave Canadians whose parents came here illegally, fleeing the horrors of Canada's Nazi-like nationalized health care system.

Republicans would be much more sympathetic to fair-skinned children who are fleeing oppression.

Posted by: SteveT on December 18, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

A few Republicans did sign on to the legislation, but the democrats still voted against cloture. This wasn't even an up or down vote on the legislation itself. They were voting just to move forward and allow an actual vote on the legislation, yet there were still five democrats who voted 'no'.


Posted by: Holmes on December 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Despite the stinkin Blue Dogs, your headline should still be "Republicans Kill Dream Act." It was their filibuster and there was still a majority to pass it.

Posted by: martin on December 18, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Reading the back of my cereal box this morning, where there was tutorial on "Our Democracy at Work," it said "Congress passes laws with a majority vote in both houses..."

Apparently, that's not how our Democracy works any more.

Posted by: delNorte on December 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Repeal of DADT moves forward in the senate. Oh my god, what is coming to our world when our republican senators and our corporately owned democrat senators allow Obama to have a victory?

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on December 18, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

the legislation was written in large part by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and it has enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Who I believe both voted no.

Posted by: sue on December 18, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Well, now we know. It is officially more okay to hate Latinos than to hate GLBTs.

Glad to have the party of Christian morality sort all that out for me.

Posted by: bleh on December 18, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

All these things, with a few unsavory modifications, will pass after the new congress comes to power. The thugs will claim to be the skilled adult legislators, the media will spread the message, and the people will be fed.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on December 18, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

While discussing this vote, can we not use the same frame as conservatives? The only people I heard say "illegal immigrants" were the ones voting no on DREAM. Senator Durbin spoke eloquently about the undocumented students that would come out of the shadows if DREAM passed.

Posted by: Saturniinae on December 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Five Democrats -- Pryor (Ark.), Tester (Montana), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Baucus (Montana), and Hagan (N.C.) -- sided with the minority."

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! These five democrats represent what percentage of the country's population? I would say 10% is high, off the top of my head I would guess under 5%; ie maybe 15 million citizens.

Sooo, we have Democrats representing less than 10% of the citizenry, and THEY defeat the DREAM ACT.

If there was ever a case of the "tail and REAR END waging the dog, this is it.
And we went hog wild over Tester and Hagen to win election, and they turn out to have the compassion of a conservative, which is NO COMPASSION at all.

Posted by: barkleyg on December 18, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Any Republican who supports this version or any other version of amnesty is a short-sighted fool. Those given citizenship through the Dream Act or any other form of Amnesty will all become automatic Democratic Party voters who will support racial and ethnic set asides and will want the government to tax the crap out of whites so that they can get the money.

Amnesty means the end of any conservative party in the U.S. and means the U.S. will become a one-party-state with a third world population.

Posted by: superdestroyer on December 18, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey superdestroyer, Lady Liberty wants a word or two with you:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Posted by: delNorte on December 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

When a latino fights and dies for this country do they send the casket home covered with an American flag, or do they have a flag that denotes no mans land?

Posted by: JS on December 18, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK


The U.S. went over forty years from between the start of World War I to the mid 1960's with little to no immigration. The economy in the 1950's was one of the longest booms in the U.S. There is no reason to turn the U.S. into a third world country because of open immigration and having a long barely guarded border with a third world country.

If you want to let in immigrants, then they should all be treated equally instead of giving a huge windfall to Mexicans because they have an easier time sneaking into the U.S.

Posted by: superdestroyer on December 18, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Superdestoyer, et al...

This was a serious bill meant to deal with a real serious issue. We have a large number of people who came to the US because parents brought their entire families with them - and many of the kids were young. This bill was started in part by stories of students in Utah who discovered, at 18 yrs old, that they were brought here at 6 mos old... And at one point, stormin' Orrin had some scruples and chose to figure out a solution. Now we essentially have a cohort of people who are "stateless" - not Americans, not Mexicans. Many speak a very rough Spanish. The path to citizenship was not easy even with the bill - this would require military service, education, and fees. After that, they would - you know, get jobs, raise kids, pay taxes.

It was, in short, a way to avoid adding to the problem by creating citizens who had a say in the country.

Now, what's the plan, superdestoyer? Deport them? At what costs? To where, exactly?

So much for sober law making

Posted by: bigutah on December 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I have a sneaky feeling that, in the near future, as happened in the Zadroga bill for 9/11 first responders, there will be a reason found underlying this objection to the bill. In the Zadroga bill it was 'US' Chamber of Commerce objection to rescinding a tax loophole for some of their buddies. It is likely to be something along that line here because there is no logical reason behind it.

Posted by: roughdraft on December 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK


Those children of illegal aliens are citizens of Mexico. Just because they did not grow up there does not mean that they are not citizens of Mexico. If they want to be legal, they need to follow the rules just like everyone else.

Why should children get to benefit from the illegal activities of their parents. Why reward people for law breaking? Why create an incentive for more illegal immigraiton.

There is not need for new laws because the exiting laws cover this situation. What the illegal aliens seem to really hate is having to follow any law that is not to their advantage.

Posted by: superdestroyer on December 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Shame on John McCain and Orrin Hatch, and shame on others in the Senate, like my new Senator Mark "Lockstep" Kirk, who are determined to confuse the issues surrounding illegal immigrants. These "heroes" pretend that the problem can be solved simply by securing our borders. In fact, through the stepped-up efforts of the Obama administration, the border with Mexico is more secure than ever before. But the Dream Act was intended to address the problem of the 12 million illegals who are already here. Those who were brought here illegally AS CHILDREN had no say in the matter. This bill could have provided a way toward citizenship for them through service and self-responsibility- good old Republican values. This is just another example of how Repubicans perpetuate the drumbeat of fear, anger, and hate against the least of us in order to cater to their base and their own political advantage. No integrity, no honor, no shame; you are no American hero, John McCain!

Posted by: Carol All on December 18, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

In a way, I am glad this did not pass. The only option for those elligible under the DREAM Act, as I understand it, was that they either attend college for 2 years or enlist in the military. I imagine there are more than a few in this "class" whose only option is enlistment. The military is a very poor option and I don't trust the military to embrace these young people, especially the females, as fully-qualified potential citizens. How many others, especially those of brown hue, were given what was promissed when they enlisted? Let's come up with a better bill that offers other options.

Posted by: st john on December 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration steals from Americans who have been paying taxes to support public universities and other infrastructure for many generations. All of a sudden foreigners, including illegal foreigners, are allowed to take advantage of what generations of American families have been paying for as if they had been paying taxes from Day 1. If the ancestors of American kids had not been paying those taxes the money would have passed to the current generation through inheritance. This is one reason why education in California is so underfunded. People don't want to pay taxes for education when it will become a freebie for illegal aliens.

Posted by: John F. Hudson on December 18, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

@John F. Hudson
It is time you and your brethren got over the "illegal" label. The more you create a separation from "others" the less cooperation there is. In fact, because so many "undocumented" people cannot easily use the tax-related resources of this country, the taxes that they do pay in the form of withheld employee taxes, sales taxes, etc. are never returned to them in the form of public services. They live on the fringes of society, and we, the more affluent, take advantage of their marginal status in lower food costs, services, etc. Look around and consider what some of these things would cost if your "illegals" were paid comparable wages and benefits of the "legal" workers. Join the human race and quit denying others the same human rights you claim to be yours, exclusively.

Have a nice day!

Posted by: st john on December 18, 2010 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Fine. You have not, nor do any of the NO folks answer my questions:

What is your plan? How much will it cost to deport the x million? Where will the money come from? {I will make it simple - to deport about 10 million people, it would probably cost about $70 to $100 billion].

If you don't deport them, then what? With most states eliminating driver permits, etc., we create a permanent underclass. Now what? What do you do when they need medical care? How much will that cost when they go to ERs? Or to under the table clinics, and get crappy care, and then end up in ERs, costs 100 k? Or become the victims of scams, crimes, etc., and don't report them, becuase they are here illegally? Lots of people bitch about illegals taking American jobs - often a dodgy assertion given the crappy jobs that are taken by most illegal aliens; so creating a permanent underclass accomplishes what, exactly?

Look - I am not crazy about "rewarding" kids for the acts of their parents. But - I want to hear one real answer to one of my questions. WHAT are your solutions? AND HOW MUCH are you willing to pay for your solution????

Posted by: bigutah on December 18, 2010 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK


If you are not going to enforcement the immigration law or defend the borders, then how to you plan to fund the health benefits of the 100 million individuals who want to immigrant to the U.S.

The plan should be to enforce the law and to pass laws that stop rewarding law breaking activities.

The U.S. could also start punishing business that hire illegal aliens. Any business that submitts a tax form with a fake SSN on it should immediately be audited by the IRS, OSHA, the EPA, the state tax collector, the fire inspector, the building inspector, and child welfare. Any business that tolerates the law breaking of illegal aliens is probably breaking numerous laws and is probably an unsafe, unhealthy workplace that is cheating on its taxes.

After enough business are put out of business for hiring illegal aliens, the unemployed andunemployable ilegal aliens will leave.

Also, if the U.S. is going to nationalize health care, maybe the government should make it legal to deny care to illegal aliens. Why should I have to pay higher taxes to fund the lawbreakers.

Posted by: superdestroyer on December 18, 2010 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Superdestroyer: You can't give the innocent a break, can you? Guess what tough guy, YOU are, in fact, ALSO a descendant of "illegal aliens". So, unless you have feathers coming out your ass, which I highly doubt, then put a cork in it and get off my land! Hypocrite.

Posted by: Native American descendant on December 18, 2010 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why should children get to benefit from the illegal activities of their parents. Why reward people for law breaking? Because the children broke no laws. I seem to recall a saying about the sins of the father not falling on his sons ... The reality is that they are here and are american culturally and every other way except in citizenship.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 19, 2010 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

The meme about "rewarding lawbreakers" makes me fume when applied to the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act rewards good character and ambition.

These kids have grown up in tough circumstances. The only ones that qualify for initial relief are those who have have stayed out if trouble and overcome the temptation to drop out of school. The only ones who can complete the ten-year process are those who attend college or serve in the military and continue to maintain good moral character. This bill should have been much more generous to those unable to complete school, but it's not. A very moderate bill that would have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of good kids.

Senate Republicans like Hatch, McCain, Hutchinson, LeMieux, Scott Brown and Ensign should be ashamed af letting partisan politics trump what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do. But they probably aren't. So it's up to us to defeat them. Note that the last 4 will all face election in 2012.

Posted by: Sanity Pnease on December 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK


The Dream Act rewards lawlessness. It gives adults who have been living on stolen identities and fake documents a reward for stealing. Since they do not have identities it is impossible to determine if they have good character or stayed out of trouble or even graduated from high school.

There is also no penalty for lying on the forms. It rewards the parents by creating citizens who will sponsor them.

In the end, the Dream Act is just amnesty part one. The government has a horrible track record of enforcing immigration laws. There is no reason to believe that the enforcement of the Dream Act will be any better. Why not allow citize lawsuits if all of the provisions are not followed. Why not make immigration officials personally liable for enforcing the laws.

Until the U.S. gets real about enforcing immigraiton laws, no new rules or laws should be passed.

Posted by: superdestroyer on December 19, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK



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