Reid Promises a Vote on the DREAM Act After the Election
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to hold on vote on the DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented young people to gain legal status, during the lame-duck session, the Huffington Post reports. Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who will air an interview with Reid Sunday, tweeted that the senator said he would hold the vote “win or lose.”
Immigrant rights advocates, and particularly young people who could benefit from the bill, have lobbied hard for the DREAM Act in recent months as comprehensive immigration reform began to look increasingly unlikely. Reid announced plans on Sept. 14 to insert the act into the defense authorization bill along with a controversial repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But Republicans filibustered the bill, killing off chances of passing the DREAM Act before November.
If Republicans win additional seats in the Senate next week — and it seems certain they will — the bill would probably be dead until at least 2012. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the bill’s chief sponsor, re-introduced the act the day after the defense authorization bill was filibustered. At the time, he said he hoped it could pass during a lame-duck session. “Some members of the Senate who are not going to return may vote in our favor,” he said. “I hope that’s the case.”
Reid’s decision to move forward with the bill pleased immigrant rights groups, the Huffington Post reports:
“The DREAM Act would give a group of young immigrants here without immigration status through no fault of their own the chance to attend college, serve in the military and earn citizenship,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “These valedictorians, future scientists and future soldiers are Americans in all but paperwork, and we are thrilled that Senator Reid is committed to moving this common-sense measure before the end of the year.”
“We support and will be looking for viable efforts to pass the DREAM Act after the election,” said Center for American Progress Vice President for Immigration Policy Advocacy Angela Kelley. “In order for that to happen however, like-minded Republicans will have to step forward and show their support for this modest measure to provide relief to young people. There hasn’t been a lot to suggest that bipartisan constructive conversation on immigration is possible, but I’d love to be proven wrong.”
Of course, Reid may be one of the senators on the way out, depending on whether he is able to defeat Republican Sharron Angle on Tuesday. The Nevada Senate race has become largely about immigration, as Reid tries to play up his immigration reform support and Angle attacks him for it. The DREAM Act has widespread backing among Latino voters, who Reid has said should support Democrats based on immigration concerns. When Reid inserted the DREAM Act into the defense authorization bill, observers said it might be an attempt to win over Latino voters who were disappointed by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform bill. The most recent statement could be considered another attempt to win over the demographic before the election.
Angle, of course, is banking on Reid’s actions with the DREAM Act driving voters into her camp. Her ads accuse the DREAM Act of giving “preferred college tuition rates” to illegal immigrants, along with a number of other questionable statements.