While an immigration amendment that would have granted a path to citizenship for illegal aliens up to the age of their early 30’s was killed largely by solid Republican opposition, it should be noted that such opposition was aided by “no” votes of three Democrats. Namely, Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor from the state of Arkansas joined the Republican filibuster. Harry Reid, the Nevada Senator who originally slipped in the DREAM Act along with a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), also voted against the bill only so that the Senate can have another crack at passing it into law at a later time.
Whether DREAM has a chance as a bill of its own seems highly unlikely after the November midterms. That two Democrats opposed the bill as a matter of avoiding a touchy issue shows more division on the Democrats’ side of the aisle than Republicans as both parties gear up for the November midterms. And rather than characterizing Lincoln and Pryor as voting independently from their party establishment, it’s probably safer to say that they are erring on the side of caution in an election year.
As the final verdict came on the DREAM provision, one good place to go for first hand raw thoughts of those following the issue is on the Twitter universe. Doing a quick search on DREAM Act reveals that a largely Hispanic audience lit up the Twitter-verse with statements of disapproval at what had transpired. Many of these Tweets came from young and elder Hispanics alike. In observing the conversation on Twitter, the few other minorities that expressed their disappointment with the amendment’s rejection were mostly drowned out by young Hispanics who felt that Congress had let them down.
Predominant Hispanic voices on the issue pretty much show that the DREAM Act is largely a Hispanic issue. Furthermore, this largely “Hispanic” issue is demonstrated by the given subject long dominating Hispanic media whenever it has been raised. The way the American media has portrayed it also paints it as a largely Hispanic issue. There might be non-Hispanics talking about immigration reform online, but the subject is dominated by mostly the Hispanic community.
This issue all the more pressures the Republicans to craft a convincing message that they are not ant-Hispanic. Republicans need to get out from under the stigma of being the “party of no” and offer an immigration solution of their own that is especially convincing to the large Hispanic demographic currently in the Democratic Party’s stronghold. If the system needs reform, why and how does it need reform? If the system doesn’t need reform, why and how is the current immigration system sufficient? These are the questions Republicans need to answer.
As Democrats struggle to remain unified over the issue of immigration in this critical election year, the Republicans have the chance to shine and take up the challenge of taking a slice of the Hispanic vote away from the vulnerable Democrats.