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Senate postpones Dream Act vote, but immigration reform activists keep hope alive

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Even as the House passed its own version of the Dream Act and the Senate postponed voting on the measure for now, immigration reform activists are hoping for a late breakthrough as time runs out in the 111th Congress.

The two most active immigration reform groups, America's Voice and Immigration Reform For America, are utilizing their online presence to keep the enthusiasm alive in hopes of a future vote.

     "Majority Leader [Harry] Reid and Senator Durbin have given the DREAM Act a real chance to get across the finish line this year. This move gives supporters time to build on the momentum generated by last night's victory in the House. What's needed now is for Republicans to stop the excuses, come to the table and work with Democrats to craft a bill that can win 60 votes. We need a bipartisan breakthrough and we need it soon," said an optimistic Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice.

Harry Reid's move to vitiate the measure is seen as a strategic move by Maegan la Mala of the VivirLatino blog, who was quoted in the America's Voice online posting regarding the matter:

     "All in all this gives the DREAM Act a better chance in passing, especially when considering that there are Senators on the fence who do not want to be targeted and be in the spotlight twice. And obviously this give advocates, activists, and you more time to call and ask that the DREAM Act be supported," she said.

The Senate will take up the House version of the DREAM Act later this month according to Politico.  The measure isn't expected to survive the Senate despite the fact that Democrats have a majority along with two Independents who side with them much of the time. This leaves them one vote short of achieving a filibuster proof majority.  Yet, despite the bill's expected outcome, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the leader of the effort to get the DREAM Act passed, praised the Senate Majority Leader for his hard work in trying to get it passed.

     "The announcement that the Senate will consider the House-passed bill is great news because it gives us the opportunity to get the DREAM Act to the president's desk before we adjourn. We now have the weekend and into next week to launch a national mobilization to get the votes to enact this important bill that could literally change the course of hundreds of thousands of young lives and make our country and our military stronger," the Congressman said

This time around, immigration reform activists have targeted Republican officials who have previously supported the DREAM Act. One heavily targeted Senator was Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, whom activists earlier went after in a Facebook campaign to change her mind on the vote.  Meanwhile, conservative Republican supporters are hard at work with an online movement of their own.

While the controversial DREAM Act hasn't drawn anti-DREAM Act protestors to Capitol Hill like the healthcare bill passed under President Obama, conservative pundits are still hoping to ride the Republican wave of enthusiasm demonstrated in the recent election.  Conservative bloggers such as Michelle Malkin (who is herself a minority) and others on the web have been hard at work to mobilize their base as well, urging them to likewise contact their representatives on the matter.

Despite the lame duck Congress juggling tax cut legislation and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, don't be surprised if the DREAM Act comes down to the wire into the wee hours of some late night/early morning closing session of Congress. The bill is enough of a hot button issue to do so.

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