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The DREAM Act Deferred

The U.S. Senate fell four votes short of the 60 needed yesterday to proceed with a defense authorization bill and attach the DREAM Act to it. The Associated Press reports that no Republicans supported the bill and two Democrats opposed it. (In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted to block the bill in a procedural move so that he can bring back the bill later to the Senate.)

If approved by Congress, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, would provide a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria and complete two years of college or military service. Opponents contend it is a form of amnesty for people who have broken U.S. laws.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan voiced support for the DREAM Act yesterday in a conference call to reporters. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell urged fellow Republicans to support the bill last Sunday on "Meet the Press."

Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post reports in an article published yesterday evening that "odds of the measure becoming law this year are slim to non-existent."

But the fact that a vote on the DREAM Act has been postponed likely won't stop the growing movement among student and immigrant activists to raise awareness about the act. In the last year, they've become increasingly bold. Several undocumented students walked thousands of miles to gain publicity for the act, and others risked deportation by committing acts of civil disobedience. The "DREAMers," as some like to call themselves, are very good as well at using social media to get their message out.

Sen. Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, pledged on the Senate floor yesterday to continue to try to get the DREAM Act passed. "We're going to vote on the DREAM Act. It's only a question of when," he said.

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