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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Fate of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and DREAM Act To Be Decided

    Fate of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and DREAM Act To Be Decided Saturday

    4 hrs ago
    Patricia Murphy

    After months of fits and starts, the Senate will vote Saturday on two controversial measures for the last time in the 111th Congress -- the DREAM Act and a bill repealing "Don't ask, Don't tell," the ban against gays serving openly in the military.

    The DREAM Act would give young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they complete two years of college or two years in the military. To qualify, they also must have come to the country before the age of 16 and have been in the United States longer than five years. It is a top priority for the Latino community this year since it became clear that comprehensive immigration reform would not be politically viable, even in a Congress controlled by Democrats.

    The "Don't ask, Don't tell" bill is a new measure passed last week by the House after congressional leaders stripped repeal language out of a larger defense bill to smooth passage of both. The new, stand-alone bill stipulates that the policy will only be repealed after the president, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff certify that changing the law will not hurt the armed services' readiness, morale or cohesion.

    At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testified they believed that lifting the ban would have a limited impact on the services and that they would far prefer congressional action, which would give the military years to implement the change, to a judicial decision, which would change the policy immediately.

    Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, believes he has the 60 votes needed to move the measure to final Senate action.

    "We have refused to accept defeat. No matter what happened, we just kept going," Lieberman said Friday. "And if I may borrow from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've had you might say our own legislative surge over the last week."

    But Lieberman will need help from Republicans to get over the hurdle. So far Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he will vote against the bill, while Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have all said they will vote with Lieberman to end a possible filibuster of the bill.

    "I continue to believe that we are going to end up with more support on the Republican side than the four that we've talked about and that is very encouraging," he said.

    Democratic leaders are less optimistic about the fate of the DREAM Act, which will also need 60 votes Saturday to move to final consideration by the Senate. Reid had planned a cloture vote for the measure last week, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Reid of wasting the Senate's time on "show votes."

    Reid tabled the measure and will bring it up again Saturday, but nearly a dozen Democrats have not said how they'll vote on it.

    In the debate last week, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the bill's sponsor, described it as a compassionate solution for children of illegal immigrants who never made the choice on their own to come to the United States.

    "These children have been raised in America, they grew up in this country," Durbin said. "They are the valedictorians in their classes, the presidents, the stars of their sports teams and the people who win the college bowls. And they are undocumented, and they have no country, and they have no place to go."

    But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees immigration policy, opposed the bill and called it unrestricted amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.

    "Ending the lawlessness at our borders is the first thing that must be done and at some point after that we can wrestle with what to do about people who are here illegally," Sessions said. "Otherwise, we are surrendering to lawlessness."

    Sessions also painted a different picture of the immigrant community than Durbin, warning that the DREAM Act would allow repeat criminal offenders and gang members to apply for the program and pointing out that the law would not be restricted to children, but only to people who were brought to the United States as children. He also warned that applicants could easily obtain fake college diplomas to qualify for citizenship.

    But Durbin dismissed Sessions' predictions about phony diplomas and said the bill he drafted would disqualify felons and people convicted of voter fraud, marriage fraud or visa fraud.

    Durbin first introduced the DREAM Act 10 years ago. As Reid campaigned for re-election in Nevada, he promised immigration activists that he would bring it to the floor for a vote this year.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Eight House Republicans Betrayed The American People... Don't Let It Happen In The Senate.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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