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October 25, 2014

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Harry Reid pushes for vote on immigration measure

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Leila Navidi

Derek Washington cheers during a rally Sept. 21, 2010, in downtown Las Vegas to support the DREAM Act.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks with Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, after a news conference at Vdara Wednesday, November 3, 2010.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to force at least a test vote this week on an immigration measure to put undocumented military enlistees and college students on a pathway to citizenship.

The measure, known as the DREAM Act, is one of the more popular immigration proposals to circulate Congress in the last few years, as it caters to a sympathetic set: young, high-achieving undocumented immigrants brought to the country before they turned 16.

But when it comes to immigration, popular is relative term. Reid promised to file cloture today — a procedural step that allows him to bring up the bill later this week. But when he does, he’ll need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster; and it’s not clear he’ll be able to clear that hurdle.

Lobbyists have been leaning hard on moderate Republicans, including New England go-tos Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Scott Brown, and those from high-immigrant states — including John Ensign of Nevada.

Reid is going to need a bunch of them if he hopes to pull together 60 senators because he almost certainly won’t be able to pull every Democrat on board.

Immigration issues have never split neatly along party lines. Already, senators like Bill Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are warning leaders not to count on their support.

But despite slimming chances, Reid seems to be even more determined to make lawmakers put their name to a position while it’s still possible to get the measure past the House.

The procedural measure he files Tuesday will let Reid hold a vote on the DREAM Act as early as Thursday.

Reid has, however, made at least one tactical decision that would appear to compromise the bill’s chances of success.

He is bringing up the DREAM Act on its own — a change in tactics from before the midterm elections, when he promised to bring it up as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. The Senate never voted to take up the bill, and lawmakers never had to cast a vote on DREAM.

Stripping it away from the defense bill will make the military funding measure easier to pass, but give lawmakers on the fence fewer convincing arguments to bite the bullet and cast a controversial vote in favor of the DREAM Act.

Making matters more complicated is that with the GOP taking over the House in a month, meaning this is likely the most controversial vote on immigration that the 23 Democratic senators whose terms come up in 2012 will take before their next election. Not all come from states with as pro-immigration a voting body as Reid.

At the same time, it may be Reid’s last chance to deliver for his base, which helped Democratic senators who narrowly won tight races in the West this cycle, before his party and the president come up for another referendum. It will be all but impossible for Obama to deliver on his 2008 campaign promise to tackle immigration reform in his current term.

Hispanic voters turned out in unprecedented numbers in Nevada on Nov. 2, casting 16 percent of votes. The turnout was credited in large part as a backlash to anti-immigrant messaging from Reid’s challenger, Sharron Angle — and on a ground operation that has been growing around the immigration issue since 2008.

Democrats — especially Western Democrats in swing states — don’t want to lose that base; meanwhile, Republicans are trying to figure out how to corral it to support the GOP.

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  1. Another reason why it was a big mistake to re-elect this left wing radical.

  2. Serving in the military? Yes.

    In college? No, unless you are majoring in a science, engineering, nursing, math, education or specialized trade school.

    We have enough liberal arts or business majors.

  3. How does an illegal immigrant get into the military to begin with?

    Setting that question aside, I can see the merit in an argument to allow those who serve the US in the military to earn citizenship (ala the old Roman model.) But I just can't see rewarding any other group of illegal immigrants with that.

    Yes, it can be sad that this group was brought here by parents and had no choice, but that is life. Granting citizenship to college kids immediately opens up the whole can of worms of so-called "chain immigration."

    I suspect DREAM is dead for at least two more years, if not for good with the new Congress coming in.

  4. The only beneficiaries would be those brought here as minors by their parents. I find it hard to punish a child for their parents mistakes.

    Regarding military service, I think its a no brainer. If you serve, you should be offered a road to citizenship.

    And we can surely use more college grads here in the Valley--regardless of nationality.

  5. "The only beneficiaries would be those brought here as minors by their parents." - LVLawDog

    Are there provisions in the bill to prevent those who qualify for citizenship it from sponsoring their family once they become citizens? If not, then the parents also benefit via the back door. And they were the original offenders.

    No, the argument for military service to the country might have merit, but the problem of chain immigration makes it hard to extend it to others.

  6. You see where his priorities are. He has a debt to pay now to his constituants. Next, the Unions. Thirdly, to the struggling tax payers and unemployed.

  7. Read the Dream Act for yourself here .....http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s729/text .............. What do you think we should do to an adult who committed a misdemeanor [E. W. I. ] as a child has never been in trouble his entire life ? Six years in the military is a pretty tough sentence. Honorable discharge is required . Remember criminals will not qualify .

  8. Non citizens can ALREADY join the military and be on a path to citizenship!! This is nothing new. You must apply and be granted a green card first. Curious to know how many of these illegal young adults have applied for a green card and have been turned down after stating they wanted to join the U.S. military.

  9. Wedo wrote, "Six years in the military is a pretty tough sentence."
    Since when is service to our country considered a "sentence"?

  10. As long as the GOP considers racism a valuable election tool they can forget about "corralling" any ethnic group.

  11. Sorry angle voters but she lost .Harry stood up before the election and said he would put the dream act up for a vote .Nevada voters have spoken . Now Harry is proving he is a man of his word .

  12. 2,000,000 unemployed Americans are about to get a lump of coal in their Christmas stockigs; Nevada still has the highest unemployment & foreclosure rates in the U.S.; LV is ranked as the world's 5th worst economy and Harry the Red is concerned with amnesty? Well, I hope some of you morons who voted to re-elect this cretin are among those losing your unemployment benefits and homes. You deserve it. Too bad you took so many others down the toilet with you!

  13. kickboxermoma,

    I served in the Navy during the 'Nam era. And if you noticed, I said I thought there might be merit to the military service argument.

  14. One problem here is that people are saying 'military service' when the bill says 'uniformed service' which includes a number of non-military ways to serve including the National Health Service. So, while we do have a mechanism today to allow a pathway to citizenship through the military, this would broaden that pathway out substantially. My only beef with the service side is that I think the hook should be for four years rather than two. People I know that have done two year hitches in the military seem to barely to get through with various training before they are done. As for the education thing, unlike the service thing where we get the service before they get citizenship, this could allow for kids to get their education and then leave. That's okay if they pay, it is somewhat less okay if we are paying for it. And while the comment is that there is relatively low number of these people, although it goes up to age 35, I believe, you do have them being able to petition to bring family members once they are citizens, so potentially there is a very large number involved. Lastly, the bill has the ability to waive virtually any of the requirements so if you don't get your degree or don't complete your service, they can still give you the green light.

    In the end, I like some of what is trying to be done here but it does not seem like a terribly good way of doing it.

  15. Mr. Reid should take a poll on his web site and see if the people that elected him want the "Dream Act" to be voted on.

    I think he is forgetting that he is supposed to be there for the people in his district and not for his own pet projects.

  16. Yup, His priority when reelected - jobs... I guess he meant jobs for those who donated the most money. Like the Hispanic Legal Defense Fund and the Unions. Not the Nevada people.... How soon he forgets..

  17. What happened to "I'll listen to the people" "I'll create jobs for anyone that wants one" Oh that's right the election is over....