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Senate puts off DREAM Act vote

Lacking the necessary 60 votes to quell a Republican filibuster, the Senate is putting off a vote on the DREAM Act, which the House passed Wednesday night.

The Democrats indicate they will push the measure after the Senate acts on government funding and extending Bush-era tax cuts. The GOP has vowed to block any other legislation until those issues are addressed.

By a 216-198 vote, the House passed the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act on Wednesday night, a measure that would grant conditional residency to those brought to the U.S. before the age of 15 if they complete two years of college or military service.

Southern Arizona's Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, both Democrats, supported the measure.

"The young people who will be eligible for the DREAM Act know no country other than the United States," said Giffords in a news release.

"This is their home and they are part of our communities," said the congresswoman from Arizona's 8th Congressional District. "If these individuals want to serve the United States by putting on a military uniform, we should find a way to make that possible. If they want to strengthen our economy by seeking higher education, we should find a way to make that possible, too."

House passage of the bill is "an important milestone on the road to a better, fairer nation," Grijalva said in a news release.

"The children of undocumented parents who excel in school, play sports alongside their friends, aspire to the same professional dreams as their peers, and contribute just as much as anyone to the success of this nation need a chance to become U.S. citizens," he said.

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"There is no legitimate reason to keep millions of hard-working young people in legal limbo, fearful of imminent arrest, because of decisions their parents made years ago," Grijalva said.

Many Republicans referred to the bill as a "nightmare act" during the House debate Wednesday.

"The 'nightmare act' is amnesty," said Rep. Steve King (R-IA). "This legislation seeks to reward those who are under the law eligible to be sent back to their home country."

"This is a bill that gives amnesty to more than 2 million people who are in the country illegally," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.).

The Democrats were mostly behind the DREAM Act, but 38 voted against it.

"No one holds children culpable in the wrongdoing of their parents," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

"These are young people who broke no law. These are young people who played by the rules," he said. "The beneficiaries of the DREAM Act are the kind of young people we want."

Giffords cited an expanded military recruiting pool as a factor in her support of the measure.

The Pentagon included the DREAM Act in its latest strategic plan, Giffords said. The Defense Department considers the law an essential part of its ability to maintain an all-volunteer force, she said.

A Congressional Budget Office study estimated that the act would help from 300,000 to 500,000 undocumented immigrants.

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TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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