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On DREAM Act: Will Republicans Seize the Moment or Seal their Fate?

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Moment of Truth is Near

Washington – As the U.S. Senate prepares to take up the DREAM Act as soon as this week, pressure is building on Senate Republicans to support the bill – because it’s the right thing to do for the country and the right thing to do for the party. 

In an important development within the GOP, conservative religious leaders are calling on Senate Republicans to help the DREAM Act become law.   According to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), “Republicans should rise as the staunchest supporters of a policy proposal that incorporates the most fundamental components of the Conservative credo.  The DREAM Act, he says, is “quite possibly the most pro-family, traditional, pro-military, pro-self-reliance piece of legislation in years,” and “opposition to the DREAM Act must be interpreted as both politically naïve and morally irreconcilable with any pro-family agenda.”

Meanwhile, House Republicans such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) have ratcheted up their rhetoric and now represent the face of the party in the eyes of most Latinos.  For his part, Rohrabacher called the DREAM Act an “affirmative action amnesty.”  Rep. Steve King (R-IA), called DREAM-eligible young people “lawbreakers” and “criminals.” 

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, recently noted, “These Congressmen may as well start every speech by saying, ‘We want to ensure that no Latino voter ever votes Republican again.’” He adds, “The vote on the DREAM Act in the Senate will be a defining vote.  It will stick with each and every Senator for the rest of their political lives.  No matter what excuse they offer up, a “no” vote means they will have voted against the best and brightest of the Latino immigrant community.”

The pressure continues to mount on Republicans facing a vote on DREAM from other quarters:

  • Washington Post columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote, “If Senate Republicans kill the DREAM Act, I and many millions of Hispanics will take it as a slap in the face.  The legislation is so clearly in the country’s interest that its rejection essentially means: You don’t want me here. You fear that the country is being overrun by Latinos and that, almost as bad, we will vote Democrat.  Senate Republicans can obfuscate, but arguments about costs and laws are so flimsy when it comes to the House-approved Dream Act that if they block it this week, as seems likely, they will be joining with those nativists and haters who regularly tell me and other Latinos to leave America.”

  • Latinos leaders are ramping up the pressure on the Senate to win the remaining votes needed to turn the DREAM Act into reality.  The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is holding a press event tomorrow to call on key senators to promote, rather than thwart, the hopes and dreams of the Latino community’s future leaders.   

  • In Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported that an organization of Latino Republicans is denouncing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s current opposition to the DREAM Act.  The national group Somos Republicans wrote, “We are conservative Republicans who hold traditional military and social values.  We are troubled by the fact that you failed to recognize that Hispanics in Texas are overwhelmingly in support of the DREAM Act.” 

  • Also in Texas, Scott Stroud of the San Antonio Express-News called out Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for his continued hypocrisy on immigration reform, including the DREAM Act.  Wrote Stroud, Cornyn “expresses sympathy for students who would be affected by the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, and yet he doesn’t think he can help them just yet.” Stroud also noted Cornyn’s illogical “border security first” excuses for not passing DREAM, and stated, “That’s the politics of fear if you ever saw it, but with a campaign finance twist.  You don’t have to run your finger more than a couple of inches down Cornyn’s campaign donor list to see contractors likely to have a rooting interest in border security.  Beyond that, Cornyn knows any reasonable immigration law will be harder to pass when the new Congress arrives. If he sincerely thinks these students aren’t culpable, the time to do something about it is now.”

Said Sharry, “Senate Republicans can either seize the moment and the opportunity at hand by passing DREAM, or seal their fate with millions of Latino voters.  The DREAM Act vote presents a stark choice: you either stand with young people who have done nothing wrong and everything right, or you stand against them.”

 America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.