Pardon me for being cynical but quell surprise.
In a near-party line vote this afternoon the U.S. Senate voted against debating a military funding bill that included an amendment for the Dream Act. The 56-43 vote was four Senators short of being able to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The measure received strong support from Latino lawmakers such as Luis Gutierrez who in a letter called the Dream Act a “common sense piece of legislation” designed to help “talented and deserving immigrant students.” Other congressmen like Sen. Scott Brown disagreed and deemed it as a “form of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants.”
The Dream Act would provide a path for citizenship to illegal immigrant youth under certain strict criteria. Those eligible would receive conditional legal residency for six years, then two years to graduate college with a minimum bachelor’s degree or successfully serve in the armed forces. The National Immigration Law Center has allegedly estimated that about 725,000 undocumented youth would benefit from the Dream Act if it ever becomes signed into law.
Both Democrats and Republicans have accused each other of political posturing leading in to today’s vote. Despite playing a key role in backing a failed 2007 stab at bipartisan immigration reform Sen. John McCain threatened to lead a filibuster against the NDAA. Opponents to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that he tacked on the Dream Act to the NDAA in order to gain Latino support for his reelection campaign. (Reid was one of three Democrats to back blocking the bill though he reportedly did so “as a procedural tactic.”)
The Dream Act has mobilized Latino youth in favor of the measure and to take part in protests and other acts of defiance. (The image above came from demonstrators who spelled out their opinion with their bodies on a Floridian beach). "We tell them we're targeting Republicans and Democrats. There can be no more excuses,” said one student to ABC News after he took part in a sit-in at Sen. Diane Feinstein’s Washington office.
Online Sources- Chicago Sun-Times, CNN, cbs4.com, America’s News Online, ABC News, Politico, BBC News, Christian Science Monitor