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Monday, December 20, 2010

Activism and the Dream Act

The DREAM [Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors] Act proposed a path to citizenship for some undocumented aliens. It died on the Senate floor on Saturday morning.

The measure would have let undocumented immigrants apply for citizenship if they had entered as children, graduated from high school or gotten an equivalent degree, had no serious criminal record, and had been in the country for at least five years. They would have had to agree to finish two years of college or military service. Applicants would also have had to wait ten years for citizenship, pay back taxes and undergo background checks.

The motion to end debate and take a final vote got only 55 votes, short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Forty-one voted no.

AP reports on UCLA students who watched the Senate vote.

Minutes after it was over, many donned jackets and umbrellas to take to the rainy streets of Los Angeles, chanting "undocumented and unafraid."

Republicans might consider some kind of measure to help the students, but it would probably be much narrower, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates stricter limits on immigration. "This has a real demoralizing effect," Krikorian said of the student activists. "There's only so long you can keep up these hunger strikes and all this political theater they've been engaging in, especially if there's no specific target."

Another challenge is students could wind up feeling excluded when they can't work after graduation, despite their political activism. "It may alienate the group we most want to incorporate," said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine.