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Roadmap to Victory: A Handful of Republican Votes Needed to Turn DREAM Act Into Law

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New Chart Shows Many Republicans Supported Reform in the Past

Washington – As the U.S. Senate prepares to take up the DREAM Act this month, pressure is building on Senate Republicans to do the right thing and help the bill become law.  With a majority of Democratic senators supporting the bill, the only thing standing in the way of passing the legislation is a handful of Republican votes.  The DREAM Act has long been a bipartisan bill, and is supported by voters across party lines.  The bill was originally drafted by conservative Republican senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), along with current champion Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).  Just last week, the House passed its version of the legislation with support from eight Republicans.

The upcoming DREAM Act vote in the Senate is widely seen as a moment of truth by the Latino community.  Senators will have to decide if they stand with young Latino leaders or against them.  As conservative columnist and former Reagan Administration official Linda Chavez writes today, “Do Republicans really want to tell young people who’ve lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield: “We don’t want you”?  What are the alternatives – let them continue to live in the shadows or deport them? Not even the most aggressively anti-immigration groups are calling for the latter.  A number of Republicans who previously supported the legislation – including one of its chief authors, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah – have decided it is too risky to vote for it now. But the real risk is to the future of the Republican Party.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The only thing standing between the DREAM Act and reality is a handful of Republican votes.  The moment of truth for Republican senators is fast approaching, and Latino voters want to know: do you stand with our children and our community, or do you stand against us?  A vote for the DREAM Act is a vote for the future of the Republican Party.  A vote against it will be felt deeply in the Latino community as a vote against our children, and further cement the notion that the GOP is hostile to this important and growing group of voters.

“There is a group of Republican politicians who are seemingly bent on blocking this traditionally bi-partisan bill, and shutting the doors of opportunity to DREAM-eligible youth who want to give back to the nation they love and call home.  But calmer voices within the GOP must realize that saying ‘no’ to these kids and this bill would be terrible politics for a Party that needs to repair its image with Latino voters in order to be competitive in 2012 and beyond.

“Based on previous immigration efforts, we know there are enough Republicans in the U.S. Senate today who could join with the Democrats and provide the sixty-vote majority needed for DREAM to become law.  The only thing potentially lacking is the will to do so.  As early as this week, the moment of truth will be upon us, and Republicans in the Senate will need to say whether they stand with these young people and the future of the GOP, or with DREAM Act opponents and their darker view of America,” Sharry concluded. 

Following is a chart of current Republican senators who have supported the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform (including DREAM) in the past.  In addition to these, Senators Scott Brown (R-MA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and George LeMieux (R-FL) are also being targeted because their states include sizable Latino and immigrant populations.  Currently, only a couple of Republican senators have announced publicly that they will vote for DREAM when it comes up later this month: Sens. Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Richard Lugar (R-IN).  But clearly, the potential exists for a number of their colleagues to join with them and provide the final votes needed to turn DREAM into law.    

Current Republican Senators Who Have Supported Immigration Reform
Senator Voted for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation (CIR) Voted for DREAM Act
Robert Bennett (UT) 2006; 2007 2007
Sam Brownback (KS) 2006 2007
Susan Collins (ME) 2006 2007
John Cornyn (TX)   2003
Lindsey Graham (SC) 2006; 2007  
Chuck Grassley (IA)   2003
Judd Gregg (NH) 2006; 2007  
Orrin Hatch (UT)   2007
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)   2007
Jon Kyl (AZ) 2007 2003
Richard Lugar (IN)* 2006; 2007 2007
John McCain 2006; 2007  
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 2006  
Olympia Snowe (ME) 2006; 2007 2007
George Voinovich (OH) 2006  

*Lead Republican Sponsor
CIR 2007 Vote:
  Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.1639)

CIR 2006 Vote:  Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611)
DREAM 2007 Vote: Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act of 2007 (S.2205)
DREAM 2003 Vote: Judiciary Committee hearing on the Development, Relief and Education Act (S.1545)

Chart of current Republican senators who have supported the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform (including DREAM) in the past.

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