GOP STILL HOPES TO KILL DREAM ACT…. Under saner political circumstances, the Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) would pass easily. It was written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), was endorsed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and enjoys the enthusiastic backing of most Democrats, immigrant advocates, and the Obama White House.

Alas, sanity is in short supply.

Every year, tens of thousands of young illegal immigrants graduate from American high schools, but are quickly stuck — they can’t qualify for college aid, and they can’t work legally. America is the only home they’ve ever known — in most cases, they were, at a very young age, brought into the country illegally by their parents — but at 18, they have few options.

The DREAM Act provides a path to citizenship for these young immigrants — graduate from high school, get conditional permanent residency status, go to college or serve in the military, and become eligible for citizenship.

But as Republicans have moved sharply to the right, their attitudes on the bill have shifted, too. Hatch and McCain, for example, have gone from championing the Dream Act to opposing it. And what was once a bipartisan, common-sense effort at decency has become a prime right-wing target.

Senate Republicans and their conservative allies are sharpening their attacks on the proposed DREAM Act that would provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, declaring it would give “amnesty” to millions — some of them criminals.

The legislation, which would apply to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, has been overshadowed by other big-ticket items on the lame-duck congressional calendar. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are now pushing for votes on it this year.

“This is about accountability, not amnesty,” said a White House official who’s been closely monitoring the DREAM Act. “It will take a few Republicans to get this through Congress, but they have to realize we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. They have to help govern and to solve some of the problems.”

They don’t want to.

The push, by the way, comes on the heels of an announcement that one of the first issues the new House Republican majority will tackle next year is an obviously unconstitutional bill to end birthright citizenship. It’s as if the GOP has decided to alienate as many minority communities as humanly possible.

As for the DREAM Act, it’s also worth noting Republicans may get at least a little help from a conservative Democrat. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who’s said he opposes filibusters on motions to proceed, has said he’ll back the Republicans’ filibuster on the motion to proceed.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.