Today, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Forty-one predominantly Republican senators voted against a bill which would have provided young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents a path to legalization by pursuing a college education or serving in the U.S. armed forces. Fifty-five senators voted in the affirmative. In an incredibly disappointing vote, a minority of Senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country. Voto Latino, the nation's leading non-profit, non-partisan Latino youth civic engagement organization, has been at the forefront of youth activism on behalf of the DREAM Act.
"It is a truly sad day when a minority of obstructionist senators would choose to block a bill that has tremendous long-term benefits to our nation," says Voto Latino Executive Director Maria Teresa Kumar. "Sacrificing the dreams of hundreds of thousands of our brightest youth for shortsighted political gains flies against America's guiding principles and values. The Latino community will not forget those political leaders who today chose to obstruct progress for personal gain."
So-called "moderate" Republicans, including Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and George Voinovich (R-OH) voted against the DREAM Act. They were joined by a handful of Democrats: Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Pryor (D-AK), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Jon Tester (D-MT). Only three Republicans voted in favor of the bill. After the vote, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos posited the question of how Republicans will be able to ask Latinos to vote for them after blocking the DREAM Act.
Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced the DREAM Act would raise over $2 billion in revenue for the U.S. and cut the deficit by over $1 billion over the next ten years, landing the legislation even more support among moderates in Congress. Additionally, several members of President Obama's cabinet, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, have recently come out in support of the DREAM Act.
Voto Latino has organized phone banks, text-to-call initiatives, letter writing campaigns and celebrity PSA's in support of the DREAM Act.
Founded in 2004 by actress Rosario Dawson and political analyst Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino is the leading non-partisan Latino youth civic engagement organization and works to promote an enfranchised America by leveraging celebrity voices, the latest technology and youth themselves to promote positive change. Each of Voto Latino's initiatives are designed to capture user information and create a rapid-response, organized online and on-the-ground American Latino community with a goal toward increased integration and civic engagement.