The Politics of Voting Down DREAM

The immigration reform bill dies in the Senate

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Just hours before the Senate voted on Sunday to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Democrats lost a major piece of legislation: the DREAM Act, which failed to overcome the threat of a Republican filibuster. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would have provided a path to legal citizenship for some illegal immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. as minors but went on to graduate from U.S. colleges or serve in the military. Democrats pushed the bill as a modest alternative to the sweeping immigration reform suggested by many liberal activists. Here is what pundits are saying about the DREAM Act's failure and what it means.

  • Obama's Immigration Strategy 'in Ruins'  The president told "skeptical supporters," The Washington Post's Shankar Vendatam writes, that "deporting almost 800,000 illegal immigrants might antagonize some Democrats and Latino voters ... but stepped-up enforcement was the only way to buy credibility with Republicans and generate bipartisan support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. On Saturday, that strategy was in ruins after Senate Democrats could muster only 55 votes" for the DREAM Act.
  • Voting Against 'Patriotic and Productive' Immigrants  Time's Joe Klein blames "the anti-immigrant mania" for bringing "flagrantly cynical and cowardly" votes to against "young people who--through no fault of their own--were brought to this country as children, grew up as Americans and love the country enough to serve it. If the Dream Act were passed, we would have gained an estimated 65,000 valuable, patriotic and productive citizens--college graduates, military service-members--each year. We could use them."
  • Victory for Tea Party  "Not only had they threatened establishment Republicans with primary opposition, but they had actually beaten one ... two ... three of them," Newsweek's Mickey Kaus writes. "Nothing like fresh heads on pikes to, er, reinforce a persuasive (to my mind) policy argument." Tea party pressure "may have helped gain around ten votes by terrifying GOP incumbents who might otherwise have been tempted by the prospect of a feel-good, bipartisan, MSM-approved pro-DREAM stand."
  • GOP Better Served by Voting Against Immigrants  "The lesson I take from Nevada and Colorado," Conservative blogger Paul Mirengoff writes, "is that any measure that will enable large numbers of illegal immigrants to gain legal status, and thus to vote, is against the political interests of the Republican Party, or at least its conservative elements. For it is a dream to believe that Republicans will win over former illegal immigrants (or current Hispanic voters, for that matter) by saying 'me too' to legislation that confers benefits upon them. And it is at least as much of a dream to suppose that a Republican Party that tries to keep up with the Dems in the benefit-conferring department can remain conservative."
  • DREAM Supporters Should Have Won  "DREAM Act supporters did what you normally ask political activists to do," Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias points out: "They got the majority of the American people on their side. They get the majority of the House of Representatives on their side. They got the President on their side. And they got a majority of Senators on their side. For the vast majority of American history, that would have been good enough. And with luck, in the near future it will be good enough again."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.