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Filibuster halts DREAM Act

By Marcus Torrey

Sept. 29, 2010 1:55 a.m.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act encountered another obstacle last week when it was caught in a Republican-led filibuster aimed at Democratic legislation added to a defense bill.

Democrats attempted to tack on amendments to the bill which would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and implement the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought over as children and who have completed their high school education.

Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, said he believes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added these amendments to the defense bill in the hopes Republicans would find it difficult to vote down.

“It’s traditional practice in Congress,” Hinojosa-Ojeda said of tacking additional legislation onto a bill that has a high chance of passing.

However, Drew LaFountaine, the Bruin Republicans issues director, called this tactic “unsavory politicking.” The fourth-year political science and economics student said Democrats should not have added something unrelated to national defense to such a bill.

Despite the Democrats’ strategy, a 56-43 vote was reached, falling short of the 60 votes needed to prevent the bill from being stalled by filibuster.

Hinojosa-Ojeda said he doesn’t think there is anything to do at this point to get Republicans on board. In addition to the amendments being liberal in nature, Hinojosa-Ojeda said Republicans voted the way they did because they do not want to give the Democrats a victory, especially one that could sway the Latino vote in their favor.

Despite the lack of Republican support, LaFountaine said if certain preconditions were met, he could see the DREAM Act getting more backing. He said the act is currently working as an incentive for illegal immigration.

However, LaFountaine said if stronger border restrictions were enforced and illegal immigration numbers decreased, more bipartisan support could follow.

On campus, the student group Improving, Dreams, Equality, Access and Success has actively advocated for the DREAM Act, and currently helps undocumented college students who are ineligible for state and federal financial aid pay for their education.

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