How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'It didn't happen today:' Dream Act fails, but supporters vow to keep trying

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Student Dream Act supporters react after the Senate vote tally is read, December 18, 2010

The Dream Act, which would have granted conditional legal status to certain undocumented youths who attend at least two years of college or join the military, fell five votes short of the 60 votes needed for cloture in the Senate. There were 55 votes in favor and 41 votes against.

College students and graduates, many of them undocumented, and other supporters spent the morning making last-minute calls to legislators and anxiously watching the vote take place on C-SPAN at the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, an immigrant rights advocacy organization.

There were tears and visible anguish as the final vote tally was called. Supporters watching the vote knew that the bill, approved last week in the House, faced an uphill slog in the Senate, where it lacked Republican support. Still, many held on to a sliver of hope that it might win enough votes for cloture. They also knew it was the last chance for the bill to stand any chance of success in the near future. A more conservative Congress arrives in January, and any immigration bills that are not enforcement-related face even dimmer prospects during the next two years.

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Waiting for the Dream Act vote

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Two Dream Act supporters make last-minute calls to legislators this morning at the offices of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, December 18, 2010

A vote on the Dream Act is expected shortly in the Senate. The bill would grant conditional legal status to undocumented youths who attend college or join the military, provided they arrived in the United States before age 16 and meet other strict criteria. Supporters, many of them college students and graduates, have been making calls to legislators this morning before the vote takes place.

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Dream Act: Is it still alive, or isn't it?

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Participants in a vigil and rally for the Dream Act in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night, December 7, 2010

This morning, when the Senate voted to table action on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant legal status to certain undocumented college students and military hopefuls, a group of students and other supporters of the bill who watched the vote take place on C-SPAN in downtown Los Angeles breathed a sigh of relief.

As they saw it, the Senate's move to shelve its version of the bill, and vote at a later date on the version approved last night in the House, would perhaps give them more time to call legislators and drum up support.

But there are different interpretations of what occurred today. Some news reports have characterized the Senate's move as essentially leaving the bill to die a slow death. One NPR piece described the bill as having "very likely died" today.

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