A DREAM deferred
After the House passed the DREAM Act earlier this month, I wrote:
When opportunities arise for Congress to make a real difference in the lives of young people like Bernard, the faith community takes action. We rally in communities across the country. We speak out in the media. We write letters and make phone calls to Capitol Hill. We visit Members to plea, to reason, and to confront them when necessary. We lift up the stories of those who will bear the brunt or reap the fruit of the decisions made by Congress, and we pray, fervently and continually.
Sometimes it works. Yesterday was one of those days. To its great credit, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a 216-198 margin. A Senate vote awaits next week, and right now it’s uncertain whether there will be enough votes to break a Republican filibuster and give tens of thousands of young men and women a fair shot at earning legal status and eventual citizenship. The House has lived up to the enormous responsibility of ensuring that our nation’s immigration policy is an implement of opportunity, not oppression, for talented, hardworking young immigrants. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will follow suit. As we wait, the faith community’s intensive efforts to convince the Upper Chamber will continue.
To its everlasting shame, the Senate did not follow the House’s lead. Fifty-five Senators voted for cloture on the DREAM Act, but 41 voted to deny an up-or-down vote on this compassionate, common-sense legislation. I was wrong about one thing though — it wasn’t just a Republican filibuster. Democratic Senators Tester (MT), Hagan (NC), Pryor (AR), Baucus (MT) and Ben Nelson (NE) also voted to indefinitely punish thousands of hardworking, upstanding young immigrants for choices their parents made years ago. The obstructionist minority also included seven Senators who cosponsored previous versions of the DREAM Act: McCain (R-AZ), Brownback (R-KS), Hatch (R-UT), Crapo (R-ID), Collins (R-ME), Ben Nelson and Pryor.
Hundreds of DREAMers, along with numerous clergy, fanned out across Capitol Hill this morning to make a final plea to their Senators. These kids embody the faith, the work ethic, the earnestness and the courage that have made America great. They deserve so much better than the sorry excuse for leadership on display in the Senate this morning. I pray that they know God’s comfort as they grieve.
Just before the vote, Majority Leader Reid said “”The DREAM Act is going to pass, Mr. President I hope it passes today… sooner or later it will pass.” It’s hard to believe that in the aftermath of such an abhorrent vote, but we only have a chance as long as we have faith.