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DREAM Act No Longer Bipartisan

May 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For years, comprehensive immigration reform was a bipartisan issue. But with Barack Obama as President it has suddenly become extremely divisive. In the past two years, just about every congressional Republican that once supported a comprehensive plan that includes a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has changed their position. Now that Senate Democrats are reintroducing the extremely-scaled back DREAM Act, which would only apply to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the extent to which Republicans are balking is becoming even more clear.

Amanda Terkel reports:

Senate Democrats reintroduced the DREAM Act on Wednesday without the co-sponsorship of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who had previously been one of the bill’s strongest backers.

The legislation would allow some undocumented young people to become U.S. citizens and has been introduced repeatedly over the years with Lugar and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as the cosponsors. The most recent vote on the DREAM Act was in December, when it fell five votes short of bypassing a filibuster. Lugar was one of just three Republicans to vote for the measure.

In a statement, Lugar spokesman Mark Helmke blamed Democrats for turning immigration into a partisan issue. […]

Helmke said Lugar’s staff told Democrats that the Indiana senator supported the initiative, but he wanted them to work on getting more Republican support. Lugar’s spokesman claims that not only did Democrats not do that, but they set up a press conference to announce the reintroduction of the DREAM Act before the Lugar had made his final decision not to cosponsor. Democrats, however, said that it was clear for months that Indiana Republican wasn’t going to cosponsor the bill at this time.

Here are three versions of the DREAM Act from the past several years — S.729 (111th Congress), S.774 (110th Congress), S.2075 (109th Congress). CLick on those and then check the co-sponsors to see the Republican support dwindle over the years to just Lugar in the 111th. Nothing has changed about this bill over the years, and the undocumented immigration issue has only become more problematic. When Bush was in office, the DREAM Act had 8 Republican co-sponsors one session (the 109th) and 5 the next (the 110th). With Obama in office Republican co-sponsorship immediately jumped down to 1 in the 111th, and now, as the election approaches, zero. To the Republicans, this is clearly about politics, not immigration policy. See also: the Republicans’ sudden backing away from debt limit increases as soon as Obama came into office.

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