The Dream Act Is Dead, at Least for Now

Democrats’ dreams of passing an immigration bill before the midterm elections died Tuesday, when Senate Republicans blocked a measure that could have carried legislation benefiting undocumented college students.

Senate Democrats had planned to offer the bill, known as the Dream Act, as an amendment to a measure reauthorizing Defense Department programs. But Republicans thwarted that plan, gaining enough votes to defeat a motion to proceed to debate on the defense bill.

The vote also doomed efforts to repeal the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, which bars openly gay individuals from serving in the military. That policy has created tensions at some law schools between military recruiters and faculty members who oppose the rule. Law schools that have barred recruiters from their campuses have been threatened with the loss of federal funds, and two — the Vermont Law School and the William Mitchell College of Law, in Minnesota — have been stripped of that aid.

A repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell," which Democrats also included in the defense bill, would have helped end the fight over military recruiting on law-school campuses.

But Tuesday’s vote may not have been a complete loss for Democrats, who are fighting to retain control of Congress in the midterm elections. Even though the bill failed, the fact that Democrats sought to advance the legislation could increase Hispanic turnout in the elections. If it does, those voters could help Democrats hold on to the Senate and maybe even the House of Representatives.

The Dream Act, which was first proposed 10 years ago, would create a path to citizenship for undocumented students and make them eligible for some federal student aid. Advocates see it as the solution to many barriers facing illegal immigrants who want to enroll in college and go on to well-paying jobs and productive lives in the United States. But critics say it would reward illegal behavior and encourage more immigration.

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THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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