A regular reader of mine — a self-described white conservative who wants to beef up border enforcement and limit all immigration — tells me that “most anti-immigration activists regard the ‘dream act’ as one gigantic loophole.”
That’s funny. In what I regard as a healthy development, more and more Hispanics have to come see the Democrats’ handling of the issue as one gigantic scam.
C’mon. It’s no coincidence that the DREAM Act is back on the congressional agenda just as President Obama is beginning his “kiss and make up” tour with Hispanic voters in the hopes that they will turn out to vote for him in 2012.
Their support is hardly a foregone conclusion. Many Latinos are disappointed and disillusioned with Obama and his administration over immigration. They see the president as too eager to compromise, and too desperate to show white voters that he “feels their pain” over illegal immigration (he has deported nearly a million people since taking office).
So Obama needs to talk fast if he has any hope of stopping Latinos from going the way of the independents who have already deserted him.
What could he offer them? Refried Dreams.
He’s set to reheat and serve up the DREAM Act, which would grant a pathway to legal status to undocumented students who go to college or join the military. Many Latinos support the idea, and they might be inclined to give Democrats credit for pushing it.
They should read the fine print. Senate Democrats already scuttled the bill once before, when five of them — Max Baucus of Montana, Jon Tester of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — bolted from party leaders and voted against cloture during the lame duck session in December.
Now the bill has been reintroduced, and it’s hard to see how the outcome of this vote will be any different.
Back in December, if those five Democratic votes had gone the other way, the DREAM Act would have gone to the floor for a vote and probably passed. Even if the Republicans had tried to launch a filibuster, it would likely have failed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the 60 votes to pass the bill.
At first, I was furious at Reid and President Obama for losing those votes. I thought to myself: “You’re telling me that Reid, as Senate majority leader, doesn’t have the power to twist arms, offer incentives, or make threats to get five measly votes? Or that President Obama, if he were so inclined, couldn’t do the same? They did a good job of rustling up strays during the health care debate. But then, there was an issue that Democratic leaders actually cared about.”
And I was even more furious when Democrats managed to doctor the crime scene to make it look as if Republicans were the real culprits — just like they always do on immigration, ensuring that no self-respecting Latino would dare vote for a Republican for any office. In the long run, when one political party takes them for granted and the other writes them off, Latinos lose.
Now, seven months later, I’m no longer furious at Democratic leaders for what happened with the DREAM Act. I’m impressed. The Senate Democrats really fooled me, and a lot of other people who were inclined to believe that Reid, Obama, and the rest of the Democratic Party really wanted to pass it.
Guess what? They don’t. Why would they? As it stands, it’s a great issue to bludgeon Republicans with to score points with Latino voters. If they did pass the DREAM Act, they know they’d own the bill — and have to wear it around their neck in the 2012 elections. Given that some people (wrongly) consider the bill an “amnesty,” they don’t want that.
So it’s entirely possible that Reid didn’t lose those five votes so much as cut them loose. I bet that he deliberately orchestrated those five defections to allow Democrats to enjoy the best of both worlds — thwart passage of the DREAM Act while casting blame on Republicans. It was a win-win.
Now that the idea is back, we can expect Senate Democrats to do what they did last time. Why not? It worked like a dream.