The DREAM is over. The vote today in the U.S. Senate on the controversial bill was close but it failed 55-41.
In his conference call yesterday with the press to urge passage, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the Obama White House would try again but this was the best chance to gain passage of the DREAM Act given the Republican dominance of the Congress come January.
The bill created a legal path to citizenship for young people brought to America illegally by their parents. It applies to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their 16th birthday. To qualify, they must graduate from high school, enter college or into the military and stay out of trouble.
Duncan argued that the children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for the sins of their parents, and their ability to attend college was important to the economic viability of the nation.
The GOP senators weren’t buying. Opponents countered the bill amounts to amnesty for lawbreakers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said the Democrats’ last-ditch effort reflected political expediency. “You’re not doing this to advance the issue. You’re doing it to advance your situation politically,” said Graham.
In a statement, Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said: “Democracy lost out today as a minority of the United States Senate refused to permit a vote on the merits of the DREAM Act. In the face of extraordinarily committed youth and a nationwide movement, obstinately obstructionist senators refused to allow a bill with obvious and enduring benefits to our nation’s future to move forward. Sacrificed to transitory and shortsighted political trends were some of our nation’s most critical constitutional and guiding principles. Enactment of the DREAM Act would have vindicated longstanding values that have served to make our nation great. This is a critical political moment, and the Latino community and the entire nation will surely hold accountable the political leaders who cravenly blocked progress today.”