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WASHINGTON – At the end of 2009, I said that if no immigration relief bill passed in 2010, I’d have to end the year with a column using the chorus from a Puerto Rican Christmas carol: “Todos los años vienen con la misma cosa,” which, loosely translated, means “Like a broken record, here we go again.”
And that’s what happened in the Senate on Saturday, when 5 Democratic and 36 Republican senators, presenting the same excuses as always, killed this year’s chance to pass the DREAM Act for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who only want to study, work and serve in the Armed Forces.
60 votes were needed to end debate on the bill and proceed to a vote. At the end, 55 senators voted in favor, but it wasn’t enough. Three Republicans who voted to end debate: Richard Lugar (R-IN), Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
So the five Democrats who voted against the bill would have made the difference. Their names: Max Baucus (D-MT); Jon Tester (D-MT); Ben Nelson (D-NE); Kay Hagan (D-NC); and Mark Pryor (D-AR).
But the bill also would have succeeded if some of the Republicans who had previously defended and cosponsored the measure had not turned their backs on the bill and their principles.
One of these, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), lashed out venomously against the plan. It wasn’t just what he said to the students, but how he said it.
“To those who have come to my office — you’re always welcome to come, but you’re wasting your time. We’re not going to pass the DREAM Act or any other legalization program until we secure our borders. It will never be done as a stand-alone. It has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform,” Graham said. He didn’t mention that he himself had decided to block such reform, because like others in his party, neither deporting 400,000 people a year nor everything that has been done on the border so far is enough.