20/12/10 a 5:48pm por Maribel Hastings
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.
Furthermore, some of the Republicans who had defended the DREAM Act in the past weren’t even there to vote against it—like Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who, ironically, missed the vote to attend his grandson’s graduation.
Hatch is one of the Republicans facing tough re-election battles in 2012, and it is to be expected that he’ll look after his political future—although his colleague Lugar could also find himself challenged in a primary, and nevertheless maintained his support for the DREAM Act.
Other Republicans who weren’t even elected but rather appointed, like George LeMieux (R-FL), are looking toward the political future they imagine they could have. LeMieux voted against DREAM despite the fact that he won’t even be returning to the Senate in January—he was only filling the vacancy left by Cuban-American Mel Martínez, a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, when Martínez left the Senate in 2009. Marco Rubio won the election to fill the seat.
All of them failed to show what they were asked to by the main sponsor of the DREAM Act, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL): valor.
“Today I am not just asking for a vote on the DREAM Act, I am asking for more. I am asking for an act of political courage,” Durbin said.
I don’t know what sort of card Republicans will try to play to attract Latino voters in the presidential elections of 2012, after so much rhetoric and animosity on the topic of immigration and so much malice toward young people who didn’t choose to come to or stay in this country without papers.
I don’t know if the Administration’s “Yes, we came close” will be enough to maintain the same level of support Latino voters showed in 2008.
I just know that in the new Congress, in 2011, control of the House of Representatives will be taken over by Republicans—whose leadership has advocated making life more difficult for the nation’s immigrant community.
Forty-one Senate “Grinches”–36 Republicans and five Democrats whose hearts were “two sizes too small”–are already helping them out.
Remember their names.
Maribel Hastings is a senior adviser and analyst at America’s Voice.
Senators who voted NO on the DREAM Act:
Crapo (R-ID) DeMint (R-SC)