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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the bipartisan DREAM Act last night for a vote as early as Saturday morning. The legislation would grant certain immigrant youth who were brought here at a young age conditional non-immigrant status and a chance to eventually become legal residents, provided they finish two years of college or serve in the military. After a decade of waiting and months of unprecedented organizing that included undocumented students putting themselves at risk of deportation and hunger-striking for days, this is the deciding vote, requiring 60 Senators in support of the legislation.
DREAM Act student organizers are relentlessly lobbying in DC, with more students heading to the Capitol. Students and allies are gathered at the Senate Dirksen building today holding a study-in session and planning further actions in support of the legislation. Thousands of Change.org members have sent emails and made calls over the past two years to get us to this point. Keep making those calls in support 1-866-587-6101 and jam those fax lines.
Earlier this week, actors like Olvia Wilde (House), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), Ashley Judd, and a growing list of celebrities came out in support of the DREAM Act. Win or lose, the DREAM Act is now a mainstream political issue, and polls consistently show that a majority of Americans support it.
There’s some confusion surrounding what happened last week when the Senate decided to table a vote on the measure. The House passed a version of the DREAM Act that is slightly different from the Senate version that Reid was going to bring to the floor. Advocates of the DREAM Act working on the Hill pushed the Senate Democratic leadership to not take a vote on the Senate version of the bill and instead take up the version passed by the House. That made more sense than failing to pass the bill in the Senate again or passing a different version and sending it back to the House or conference for a re-vote. If the Senate passes the House version tomorrow, the bill goes directly to President Obama, who will sign it into law.
Currently, proponents do not have the votes necessary to secure passage of the bill. Three Democrats — Ben Nelson (NE), Jon Tester (MO), and Max Baucus (MO) — are likely to vote against the bill tomorrow, and without doubt, they will face a primary challenge in the near future. At this point, it would be up to GOP Senators like Lisa Murkowski (AL), Susan Collins (ME), Sam Brownback (KS), and George Voinovich (OH), to break with their party ranks and deliver the DREAM Act. However, the GOP are privately talking about introducing their own version of the DREAM Act.
All we want for X-mas is to give some young people the chance to realize their true potential. ‘Tis the season of giving. DREAM Act students and organizers have worked like elves for so long and done more than our part in the struggle. It’s now up to the Senate to deliver a win for all Americans and finally pass this legislation or face the repercussions of failure.