Senior Senate officials confirmed today that Leader Harry Reid continues to passionately look for votes to pass the Dream Act. Reid has promised to bring the bill that will create a new generation of legal American taxpayers out of the shadows by the end of this legislative session. The Act would provide a path to normalization for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
Dream activists and Senate staffers are encouraged by signals that GOP Senators Lugar (IN) and Bennett (UT) will vote for the DREAM Act as a standalone bill. However more GOP Senators are necessary to win the day for the young potentially college and service-bound DREAM Act students.
Outgoing GOP Senator LeMieux (FL) is clearly seen as a potential supporter. In fact, Senate staffers involved in the vote count indicated that the Senator who has not announced his decision yet is a top target. The GOP in Florida is anxious to end their anti-immigrant positioning and a LeMieux vote for DREAM can only help. Nevada's Senator Ensign is also in the sights of DREAM supporters. Ensign must run for reelection in a state that just rejected an anti-immigrant Republican Senate candidate in the middle of a political environment that highly favored GOPers. Ensign clearly understands the demographics that rejected failed candidate Sharron Angle and should choose to avoid the anti-immigrant brand that ended her political aspirations.
Farther down the GOP target list is Senator Hutchinson from Latino-rich Texas, who has been under relentless pressure from local DREAM Act students. The Texas GOP will soon have to decide whether they want to remain the driving force in the Lone Star State in the future.
Of course we always hear that Senator McCain seems to be open to allowing a vote on the bill however I was not able to find anyone who wanted to predict where the flip flopping... er... I mean... mavericky Senator would end up when called to vote.
A key victory on the Democratic side of the aisle is the decision by Senator Landrieu (LA) to vote in support of the bill. Senator Landrieu has at times held her position on the bill close to the vest but top Senate sources indicated that she was fully on board.
Still on the target list on the Democratic side is Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Senator Hagan is seen as a potential gain on the roster of yes votes and a top priority.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri has still not taken a position on the bill and is seen as a critical target. McCaskill is a member of the Armed Services committee and is believed to be open to the argument that the DREAM Act would increase military recruitment.
Other potential Democratic spoilers include Ben Nelson and Montana's Max Baucus. Nelson had signaled earlier that he would not vote for the DREAM Act but activists today seemed to see a softening in his position. Senator Baucus, who gave the Obama Administration headaches during the health care reform debate, is seen as a key turnover who can be only delivered by the President himself. Maybe it's time for another beer summit that includes Obama, Baucus, and an over-21-year-old DREAM student.
The phones are buzzing in DC as Leader Reid is not holding back on using any tools at his disposal. The President has unleashed the DNC organizing tool "OFA," but since the policy of OFA is not to disclose the breadth of their efforts, it is still unclear who they are targeting and how many emails they have unleashed. That being said, the passion in the beltway now almost matches the deep passion brought to the debate by the youthful DREAM Activists themselves. The clock is ticking, the phones are ringing, and history is being made.
Remember, you can be a part of history by calling 202-224-3121 and asking for the offices of any of the targeted Senators on this list. The time to DREAM is now.
UPDATE -ALMOST FORGOTTEN: Sen. Scott Brown finds himself a target as well. Brown is in a state that values effectiveness over partisanship and this is a key test of his independence. Brown would do himself a huge favor by voting for DREAM.
Mario Solis-Marich is a talk show host that can be heard on AM760 in Denver and streamed at www.GoToMario.com.. Solis Marich also serves as the online editor of MyLatinoNews.com