If you look at the description of yesterday afternoon's U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote Number 278 ("A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify and improve certain provisions relating to the removal of litigation against Federal officers or agencies to Federal courts, and for other purposes."), you'd never know it had anything to do with illegal immigration.
But it did. It was a cloture vote (60 needed to get the measure to the Senate floor) about about the so-called "DREAM Act," granting de facto amnesty to a vast number of illegal immigrants for entering college or joining the military. It has been a Democratic Party-"inspired" initiative with heavy Republican opposition from the get-go. It could easily have passed if the Democrats had been able to hold their membership together while picking off a couple of squishy Republicans.
They got their squishes: Republicans Murkowski (AK), Lugar (IN), and Bennett (UT) voted yes. That should have given the measure 61 votes. But Democrats Baucus (MT), Hagan (NC), Nelson (NE), Pryor AR), and Tester (MT) voted no, while Manchin (WV) did not vote. The measure's 55-41 support was not enough to move it to the next step.
So whose fault was it that the DREAM Act failed? A bitter, unbylined Associated Press report give us the wire service's "objective" take:
Republicans block youth immigration bill
Senate Republicans on Saturday doomed an effort that would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military.
Sponsors of the Dream Act fell five votes short of the 60 they needed to break through largely GOP opposition and win its enactment before Republicans take over the House and narrow Democrats' majority in the Senate next month.
President Barack Obama called the vote "incredibly disappointing."
"A minority of senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country," Obama said. "There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation."
Dozens of immigrants wearing graduation mortarboards watched from the Senate's visitors gallery, disappointment on their faces, as the 55-41 vote was announced.
"This is a dark day in America," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles. "The Senate has ... thrown under the bus the lives and hard work of thousands and thousands of students who love this country like their own home, and, in fact, they have no other home."
Hispanic activists and immigrant advocates had looked to the bill as a down payment on what they had hoped would be broader action by Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress to give the nation's 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants a chance at legal status.
It targeted the most sympathetic of the millions of illegal immigrants - those brought to the United States as children, who in many cases consider themselves American, speak English and have no ties to or family living in their native countries.
... Critics called the bill a backdoor grant of amnesty that would encourage more foreigners to sneak into the United States in hopes of being legalized eventually.
There's a great deal of nonsense and misdirection in the AP's characterization of the bill. Posted at Michelle Malkin's blog, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama punctures it nicely with ten clear points. Here are a few of them:
1. The DREAM Act Is NOT Limited to Children ... H.R. 6497 includes a requirement that aliens be under the age of 30 on the date of enactment to be eligible for LPR (legal permanent resident) status. ... The bill’s 30 year old age cap on “children” only applies to date of enactment, and the registration window will remain open indefinitely regardless of future age.
3. The DREAM Act PROVIDES SAFE HARBOR FOR ANY ALIEN, Including Criminals, From Being Removed or Deported If They Simply Submit An Application ... , amazingly H.R. 6497 still protects ANY alien who simply submits an application for status no matter how frivolous.
6. Conservative Estimates Suggest That At Least 1.3 Million Illegal Aliens Will Be Eligible For the DREAM Act Amnesty. In Reality, We Have No Idea How Many Illegal Aliens Will Apply ... It is highly likely that the number of illegal aliens receiving amnesty under the DREAM Act will be much higher than estimated due to widespread fraud and our inherent inability to accurately estimate the illegal alien population. Estimates also fail to account for the chain migration which will inevitably occur once these illegal aliens are naturalized, and for children who will be eligible years down the road.
7. The DREAM Act Does Not Require That An Illegal Alien Finish Any Type of Degree (Vocational, Two-Year, or Bachelor’s Degree) As A Condition of Amnesty ... the bill is careful to ensure that illegal alien high school drop-outs will also be put on a pathway to citizenship – they simply have to get a GED and be admitted to “an institution of higher education.”
Points 1 and 6 directly refute the AP item's claim that the DREAM act only involves "hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants."
For those who need reminding, the AP's irresponsible take on yesterday's result is what most news readers, listeners and viewers will see, as its local and regional news, TV, and radio subscribers heavily rely on it to deliver content their staffs do not have the time or resources to assemble. The 85% of the population that is relatively disengaged (maybe, thanks to the Tea Party movement, it might be down to 80% ) will likely swallow what they see and hear, making Republicans look like the meanies who killed the bill.
The fact is that in the final analysis, it was six Democrats who appear to be deeply concerned about their political survival -- three of whom must face the voters in 2012 (Manchin, Nelson, Tester) -- who stopped the DREAM Act from becoming a nightmarish reality.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.