Today, October 24, 2007, the DREAM Act failed to garner enough votes in the U.S. Senate to permit it to move to the next step, i.e., debate. The vote was 52 in favor, 44 opposed and 4 not voting. Click here to see how senators voted. The American Immigration Lawyers Association expressed its dismay, thus:
WASHINGTON, DC - In a stunning display of heartlessness and gutlessness, the Senate voted today to quash the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of American students. The 52-44 vote in favor of proceeding to debate on the DREAM Act (S. 2205) fell eight votes short of the necessary 60 vote threshold. That eight-vote shortfall means a generation of American kids will remain stranded at the schoolhouse door. And while the vote is a nightmare for children, families, educators, and military recruiters throughout the country, it will also haunt the long-term political fortunes of those Senators standing on the wrong side of justice.
Make no mistake about it, the vote on this bill was about much more than immigration policy, it was a vote about who we are as a country. These young people were brought to the United States by their parents at an age where they had no say in the decision. Many have spent the majority of their lives in the United States and consider themselves to be Americans. Like their U.S.-born peers, they dream of pursuing a higher education or serving their country, but they are prevented from doing because they lack legal status.
Obviously, our failed immigration policies put these kids in an untenable predicament and this bill sought to provide an avenue for them to secure legal immigration status. That, however, was simply a means to the bill's end of providing these faultless kids with an opportunity to fulfill their dreams, maximize their potential, and contribute to this nation. Today's vote to deny them that opportunity is a sad commentary on the state of American politics.
Our purported policy makers have shown a keen knack for sidestepping critical public policy issues and immigration policy is Exhibit A. So we commend and thank Senators Reid (D-NV), Durbin (D-IL), Lugar (R-IN), and Hagel (R-NE) for their courage and commitment in forcing the Senate to face its responsibilities and take an up or down vote on this important issue. Sadly, too many of their colleagues succumbed to the political fears generated by a vocal cabal of xenophobic extremists.
There will be a number of additional opportunities over the next few months to pursue narrow, targeted immigration policy reforms. AILA, along with the rest of the country, will be watching closely to see if the immigration restrictionists in Congress continue their slow march to political suicide or do what they were elected to do: make smart policy choices that will advance America's interests and solve America's problems.
AILA Statement released on 10/24/07, regarding the Senate vote on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2007 or DREAM Act (S. 2205).