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DREAM Act Fails in Senate

December 20, 2010

CHICAGO - The DREAM Act has failed in the U.S. Senate. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors bill would have helped undocumented students brought to this country as minors by their parents, by granting them legal status if they join the military or go to college.

A University of Illinois poll found that nearly 80 percent of Illinois voters, and 64 percent of Senator Mark Kirk's supporters, favor the bill, but Kirk and fellow Republicans blocked it.

Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says he's disappointed.

"You have to wonder what kind of a country America is becoming when people can't look at young people who are in this country through no fault of their own, and can't say, 'We have to have a solution for these young people.'"

The bill passed in the U.S. House, and would have passed in the Senate had it not been filibustered by the Republicans. On Saturday, the Senate fell five votes short of the 60 needed to end the filibuster.

Hoyt says he's disappointed that the DREAM Act wasn't even allowed to come up for debate.

"The DREAM Act is trapped in the bitter partisanship of Washington."

Hoyt says it doesn't make sense to block a bill that had the support of both liberals and conservatives.

"The Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, the Evangelical churches are all deeply supportive."

Opponents referred to the DREAM Act as an amnesty bill, and called for provisions for tougher border controls. Supporters called it a matter of fairness, allowing young people to achieve their potential and become taxpayers.

Now that the legislation has failed, Hoyt is calling on President Obama to declare a moratorium on the practice of deporting undocumented students and immigrant workers who have committed no crimes.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL