After DREAM Act Defeat, Advocates Fight for Educational Equality

The Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act Saturday, as Democrats fell five votes short of the 60 needed to advance the bill. The final vote was 55-41. While a Republican filibuster diminished the bill’s chances of success, five Democrats sealed the measure’s fate. Max Baucus (D-MT), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) crossed party lines to vote against the bill that would have created a conditional path to legalization for immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military.

President Obama, who came out in full support of the DREAM Act in the 11th hour, wasted no time speaking out against the bill’s defeat. As ColorLines’ Julianne Hing reports, the president called the Senate’s failure to pass the measure “incredibly disappointing,” adding that “There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.” Obama further promised that his administration would continue supporting the measure. Hing aptly notes, however, that the president’s support belies the Department of Homeland Security’s resolve to continue deporting DREAM Act-eligible youth in the event of the measure’s failure.

DREAM Act defeat sets stage for anti-immigrant agenda

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other congressional Democrats had hoped to pass the DREAM Act before Republicans assume control of the House in January and curtail future attempts at progressive immigration reform.

Mother Jones’ Suzy Khimm argues that the DREAM Act’s defeat sets the stage for incoming GOP leaders who have promised to crack down on immigration. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who will likely chair the House Judiciary Committee in 2011, has already spoken out about his plans to move forward with a number of anti-immigrant measures. Among them: A birthright citizenship bill and an employee sanctions bill that would requires the Internal Revenue Service to share information with the Department of Homeland Security (a la Secure Communities).

Whether House Republicans will be able to get such controversial legislation through the Democratic-controlled Senate, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, many reform advocates are turning their attention to legislation at the state-level, where a number of incoming nativist governors are vowing to push a plethora of severely anti-immigrant measures.

What’s next?

The Media Consortium recently sat down with Yana Kuchinoff of Truthout to discuss the DREAM Act’s failure in the Senate, and what will be next for the legislation in the next Congress. Kuchinoff says that although congressional action is important, the growing strength of grassroots and activist organizations are likely to play a major role in the bill’s future.

Public education still a minefield for undocumented students

The DREAM Act’s bitter defeat is all the more unfortunate as an increasing number of state-level laws seek to deny undocumented youth access to education. As I wrote in a special report for Campus Progress, Arizona is leading that charge with the cavalier passage of several anti-immigrant and arguably anti-education measures. In addition to being the first state to deny undocumented youth in-state tuition and public funding (Colorado and Georgia have since followed suit), recent bans on equal opportunity and ethnic studies have made education a minefield for undocumented and minority students. Now, with state senator Russell Pearce (R) assuming the role of senate president, the crackdown on Latino youth threatens to intensify–and spread across state lines.

In this feverish climate, many immigrant rights advocates are re-focusing their resources on fighting for educational equality at the state level. Chris Thomas at the Public News Services reports that a chief concern is passing tuition equality legislation for undocumented students. While 10 states have passed laws ensuring that undocumented residents receive in-state tuition at colleges and universities, Arizona, Colorado and Georgia have passed restrictive measures denying them that privilege.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

Photo credit: Korean Resource Center
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

John Bauer
Past Member 5 years ago

I'm sorry, say what you will, but I don't think the children of a family who has been in the US illegally should have my tax dollars pay for their education. My taxes go to the public school system and I don't like the idea of me paying for someone's kids, who has never paid taxes. Don't give me the crap about how illegals pay taxes: they don't. In order for them to get a paycheck, they need a SS#. In order to have a SS#, they have to be a citizen. I have met illegals who use fake #'s and even all use the same number under the same name. If they want to get education and get treated like a citizen, maybe they should become one. I don't go to England and demand that the country pays me things because I'm not a citizen. If this country lets non-citizens get the perks that citizens get, then what is the point of becoming a citizen?

Mildred Paranich
Mildred Paranich5 years ago

Where in the HE_ _ does this mentality of "entitlement" come from, from people who have NEVER contributed to the "American" society, via working, paying taxes for years, like most of us, nor served in our military come from!!!??? I have worked and paid into this country's "system" for 35 years people!! Due to my race and the fact that I had no choice but to support my family, with NO assistance from ANYONE, plus I was raised with ethics, integrity, morals, and a work ethic my children, nor myself have had NOTHING "FREE" in this country. Due to supporting others (thanks to our government), who should be "legal" and responsible to pull their own weight, I have no vision of "retiring" anytime soon. I wanted to go back to college, but have been told that I'm only eligible for a "loan". NOT a flippin grant or scholarship, but a LOAN, just to put me MORE IN DEBT!! This is reverse discrimation, & injustice! It is NOT equality for ALL! And people, I have a legacy of family who were/are military (to protect the backsides of all of you) and even lost a brother in the Vietnam War, but I'm penalized for being able to work and provide for my family! Are you people stuck in stupid!!?? Where in the He_ _ is that "just" or right!!?? Where are MY CIVIL RIGHTS!!!???? This country can go to He_ _! And, it will deserve to.

Glenda S.
Glenda S5 years ago

thanks for sharing..

Myriam Garcon
Myriam G6 years ago

Dear Judith S
I think you DESERVE free medical and free college education for you, and your kids. I think that all hard-working people everywhere should get those things. I know, it takes a lot of tax money and all, but still... I think that would be money well spent. That's how I was raised...
Again, I don't mean to pry in american business, but as Vince D said, we're kind of all in this together, in North America. I'm just sad to see good people go without the healthcare they need, and able youth go with the education that would benefit them so much.
Happy Holidays, everyone!

Judith S.
Judith S6 years ago

Marina, I work quite hard. Does that mean my children should get free medical and education too? I would really like that! Because now, if my kids or I want to go to college, we have to work hard at the same time as attending school so we can pay the tuition and other expenses. And we have to buy insurance or pay all of our medical expenses ourselves. It sure would be nice to not have to worry about how these things were getting paid! Maybe I'll leave the country and come back as an illegal so my children and I can partake of these benefits too.

Judith S.
Judith S6 years ago

This is not a Democrat/Republican issue. I am proud to call myself a Democrat, but I do not condone giving all our resources away to and rewarding people who break the law. I am sure there are many other Democrats who feel as I do since the vast majority of Americans are in agreement on this one issue.

Judith S.
Judith S6 years ago

Funny, Robert O, you accuse others of racisim, but it was YOU who brought up race.