DREAM Act Nightmare: Immigration Bill Dies in Senate

Dec 18, 2010 12:03pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

Senate Republicans today shot down the DREAM Act, an immigration measure that would have helped undocumented students who came to the US before age 16 to become legal residents after five years by completing higher education or military service.

The final tally of today’s procedural vote was 55-41, but the measure needed 60 votes to advance.

Senate Republicans argued that the bill amounted to amnesty, that it would impede the enforcement of immigration laws and that it failed to address the larger problem of border security. “Here we are in the final days of a lame-duck, some say dead-duck Congress, considering a bill that would create a major problem to the effective enforcement of immigration laws. People are not happy with us,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said this morning on the Senate floor.

“This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., claimed that Senate Democrats were only pushing the bill so late in this session of Congress for their own political gain. “To those who are bringing this bill up today, I know why you're doing it. You're not doing it to advance the issue. You're doing it to advance your situation politically,” Graham said. “It is not appreciated. You're making it harder. You care more about politics in the last two weeks than you care about governing the country. This will not help America do the things America does.”

Ultimately, the numerous pleas from across the aisle — such as from the Senate’s number-two Democrat Dick Durbin — fell on deaf ears. Durbin emphasized that the measure would have helped millions of young immigrants.

“This is the only country they have ever known and all they’re asking for is a chance to serve this nation — that is what the DREAM Act is all about,” said Durbin. “To say that we’re pushing and rushing a vote for them — it can’t come too soon! Their lives hang in the balance.”

The bill passed the House earlier this month, making today’s vote in the Senate a last-ditch effort by Democrats to pass the measure before Republicans take control of the House and gain seats in the Senate come January.

Three Republicans backed the bill today: Sens. Dick Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Robert Bennett of Utah. But five Democrats voted against it: Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Max Baucus of Montana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Four senators did not vote: Sens. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

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