Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrant College Students Blocked

Not that anyone’s really surprised, but the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act)—a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to (essentially) become citizens if they complete two years of college or military service—was not passed by the U.S. Senate on Saturday.

As Naftali Bendavid writes in the Wall Street Journal:

The measure was a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., who won a tough re-election fight last November with the help of his state’s large Hispanic community, which strongly supports the bill.

The bill’s critics said the Dream Act would reward law-breaking, and that Congress needs to secure the country’s borders before awarding citizenship to any illegal immigrants. “For years Congress has refused to do that,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), a leading opponent of the act. “As part of this legislative session, there’s been no serious movement to do anything” regarding border security.

The 55-41 vote (to cut end debate and vote on the bill) basically ends the legislation. The measure needed 60 votes to be considered for passage. Virtually all of the majority votes came from Democrats, who supposed the bill. Only Republican Senators Robert Bennett of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted to close debate. With more Republicans coming into congress in the New Year, the Senate’s unlikely to be able to pass the bill anytime in the foreseeable future.

No opponents of the bill, it’s interesting to note, actually said they objected to giving citizenship to college graduates or military veterans. Republican opponents instead grumbled about border security, which is only tangentially related.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer