Senate Rejects DREAM Act

Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT
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( - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have established a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children and who make an effort to contribute to society.

The DREAM Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would have rewarded illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States by their parents and who seek a college education or enlist in the military.

In spite of supporters' claims that the bill had broad bipartisan support, a cloture motion to proceed with debate on the bill failed 52-44. A cloture motion requires 60 votes to pass. Durbin had previously predicted that support for the motion would be in the "mid-50s."

In a statement on the Senate floor after the vote, Durbin thanked the 11 Republicans who voted for cloture. He called the bill's failure "a sad and troubling moment in the history of American history." He vowed to keep pushing the issue he's been supporting for five years.

"I don't know when the next chance will be," he said. "But this is an idea whose time will come because it is an idea based on justice and fairness. To think that these young people would see their lives ruined because their parents were undocumented, because their parents brought them to this country."

Republicans who voted against the measure -- along with eight Democrats -- opposed the measure because they said it failed to respect America's immigration laws.

"It is our duty to promote respect for America's immigration laws and fairness for U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor before the vote. "The DREAM Act fails that test and I will oppose it."

"Though I recognize and appreciate the tremendous contributions to our country made by generations of legal immigrants, I do not believe we should reward illegal behavior," McConnell said.

Two senators running for a presidential nomination -- Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- did not vote on the cloture motion. Two other Democrats seeking the nomination -- Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois -- vote in favor of opening debate on the bill.

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