The DREAM Act will get a vote on the Senate floor next week, a last shot before the November elections to appease Latino voters who are furious that President Obama has not followed through on his pledge to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that the immigration reform proposal would come up as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill. A Reid aide said that such a vote was likely to come on Tuesday of next week.
The defense bill also includes a gradual repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. There will be a floor vote on an amendment to strip the repeal out of the bill, though Democrats expect to have enough votes to defeat it.
The DREAM Act is far from comprehensive, but has strong backing in the Latino and immigrant rights community. It creates a conditional pathway to citizenship for undocumented children, and requires either military service or a college degree. Advocates see the DREAM Act as a major step toward comprehensive reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants.
When the DREAM Act last came up for a vote, in 2007, it won at least ten GOP votes: Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Five of them -- Bennett, Brownback, Collins, Hatch and Snowe - are still serving in the Senate. The bill has 40 cosponsors and the backing of labor unions and major corporations and universities.