Prior to a scheduled vote on the DREAM Act today, Senator Dick Durbin spoke on the Senate floor about this country’s critical need to keep the talents of DREAM Act kids in the U.S.
In light of what happened today in the Senate, reports of the DREAM Act’s death have been, shall we say, greatly exaggerated. It seems that CNN jumped the gun by reporting this:
Senate cancels DREAM vote
(CNN) – Senate Democrats canceled a scheduled vote on the DREAM Act on Thursday, a move that means the measure is likely dead for this year.
The hotly debated measure that offers a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children narrowly won approval Wednesday from the U.S. House.
Only one problem with CNN’s prouncement that the measure was “likely dead for this year”: nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as argued previously after passage of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives, other than actual passage of any version of the DREAM by the Senate, the next best outcome was to forget about the Senate version of the bill and instead just take up the same bill that the House passed to avoid a drawn-out process of reconciliation. Here’s the breakdown of what happened, via The Caucus Blog of the New York Times:
Senate Democrats on Thursday pulled a measure that would allow illegal immigrant students to earn legal status through education or military service after Republicans refused to allow a vote on a version of the legislation that had cleared the House on Wednesday.
Rather than try to break a Republican filibuster against the Senate’s so-called Dream Act, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, instead forced a vote to call off the attempt, presumably so he could try again later. Democrats prevailed on the motion to table the legislation, 59-40.
Shifting all focus to pass the House version of the DREAM Act instead of the Senate version actually represents a victory for DREAM activists because it paves the way for a faster, not slower process of approval-had the Senate actually approved its version of DREAM Act, it would have had to go through a process of reconciliation with the House version and then it would have had to be voted again by both chambers to gain final approval. By the Senate foregoing its version and instead just adopting the House version that has already been approved, it needs only to be approved as is and then off to the President’s desk for his signature it goes. The Senate’s vote on the House version of the DREAM Act is reportedly expected to take place next week.
No one is under any delusion that this is will not be a hard uphill battle though. However, seeing what took place in the House, there is actually a lot of promise; just consider what Markos Moulitsas of DailKos pointed out on DailyKos:
Yesterday, the House passed the DREAM Act — which would grant legal status to the children of undocumented immigrants who completed two years of college or joined the military. The 216-198 vote wasn’t pre-ordained. In fact, the pre-vote whip counts suggested the legislation might fail by as much as 20 votes. Instead, it passed. 208 Democrats and eight Republicans voted for it. 160 Republicans and 38 (mostly Blue Dog) Democrats voted against it. Seventeen of those Democrats won’t be back next year. Anyone who votes against children like this can go to hell. Good riddance.
Got that? It was actually expected that the DREAM Act would fail in the House and yet it passed, with some Republicans voting for it, to boot!
So in summary, the DREAM is alive and well, my friends; so much so that rumor has it that opponents of the DREAM think there’s about a 65% chance that it will become law. Not only that, but bigots across the nation know that even if the DREAM Act actually fails, their hatred will still lose because the DREAM Act movement will become even stronger with the passage of time. Just take a look at this inspiring diary entry on DailyKos that makes this very same point; here’s a sample:
Young people who have never been involved politically before are working across traditional party lines to bring about the Dream Act. They are coordinating with organizations across the country, phone banking, sitting in, rallying, writing press releases, and reaching out to immigrant communities. They are learning senate, house and electoral procedures.
We are seeing this scenario played out in state after state on not only the DREAM Act but on state legislation that affects immigrants, minorities and youth. The same young people fighting for the Dream are now organizing to prevent Arizona like legislation from passing in 11 other states and thus fighting to prevent discrimination against all minorities.
Regardless of what happens with the DREAM Act this gives me hope. These newly initiated organizers will continue to plug away at immigration reforms and organize allies and their own communities come election time. They will get involved in political parties and act as advocates in their own state houses for decades to come.
So keep putting pressure on the Senate-keep making those phonecalls, keep sending those faxes, keep expressing yourself publicly in support of the DREAM! No matter what happens, we have already won because we’ve stopped being afraid and there’s no going back now.