The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls
(202) 494-8555

Why Would Republican Senators Oppose the Bi-Partisan DREAM Act?

As President Obama and the CHC Unite Behind DREAM, Some Republicans Choose Partisan Politics over National Interest


Last evening, President Obama
capped a momentous day for immigration reform by pledging to fight for
the DREAM Act and reiterating his commitment to pursue comprehensive
immigration reform. At the same time, rather than rally around what has
been a bi-partisan bill, the DREAM Act, many Republicans were circling
their partisan wagons and pledging to oppose its inclusion in the
Department of Defense Authorization bill.

to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, "The fight to
fix our broken immigration system shouldn't be a partisan battle, but
clearly Republicans in the Senate don't agree. The idea that an
amendment that would allow more talented young people to serve in our
nation's armed forces is somehow 'extraneous' to the Department of
Defense Authorization bill is ludicrous. Republicans blocked action on
comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year, and now they are
balking at DREAM. When will they realize that their job is to solve
problems, not preserve the broken status quo?"

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators David Vitter, Orrin Hatch,
Lindsey Graham and John McCain are lashing out at the prospect of a
DREAM Act amendment to the Defense bill. Sharry said: "Hypocrisy is
thick in the air. Senator Vitter's attitude is not surprising, but the
rest should know better. When it comes to improving our economic
prospects, bolstering our military, and living up to core American
values of opportunity and advancement, the DREAM Act is a no-brainer.
It makes little to no sense for Republicans to oppose these bright,
talented young people. The DREAM Act would be a significant step
forward toward fixing the broken immigration system, something lawmakers
in both parties should embrace."

At a gala for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, President Obama stated,
"I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus' efforts to pass [the DREAM Act] so that I can sign it into law
on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to
serve in our country's uniform. It's the right thing to do. We should
get it done." The President also highlighted Republican
obstructionism to efforts to fix the broken immigration system, saying
"Today, the folks who yell the loudest about the federal government's
long failure to fix this problem are some of the same folks standing in
the way of good faith efforts to fix it."

Indeed, despite DREAM's bipartisan pedigree and clear benefits
to military recruitment and economic competitiveness, numerous
Republicans are voicing their objections to the legislation - including
many who were previous champions and supporters. In the 108th
Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-3 in favor of the
DREAM Act with support from current Republican Senators Orrin Hatch
(R-UT) (who helped draft the legislation), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon
Kyl (R-AZ), and John Cornyn (R-TX). The DREAM Act was also included in
comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2006, as an amendment
from Senator Graham in the Judiciary Committee. Twenty-three Republican
Senators voted for the comprehensive bill that year, but many of them
and their Senate colleagues are now succumbing to group think, uniting
as a party to oppose DREAM despite the compelling reasons it should
become law.

For example, Senator David Vitter (R-LA), made the misplaced assertion
that the bill will only "exacerbate the problem of illegal
immigration"; Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) referred to the bill as "extraneous"; and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attacked Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) for bringing DREAM forward, saying,
"Obviously it's about politics"--an interesting charge given McCain's
evolution on the issue during recent election battles.

the other side of the aisle, Democrats seem to be uniting on behalf of
DREAM. President Obama spoke up forcefully and clearly on behalf of
DREAM last night. This afternoon, Obama will meet
with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Representative Luis Gutierrez
(D-IL), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairwoman Nydia
Velazquez (D-NY) to discuss immigration reform. The three congressional
leaders yesterday announced
a strategy on behalf of immigration reform over the coming months,
focused on passing DREAM, introducing a broader legislative package of
immigration reforms to fix the entirety of the system, and reforming
enforcement policies that have had dangerous consequences for community
policing and public safety.

to Sharry, "We applaud the leadership demonstrated by President Obama
and congressional leaders on DREAM's behalf, and hope that Republicans
will do the right thing so that the DREAM Act can become a rare example
of smart policy triumphing over election year politics."

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.