A political impasse has stalled the passage of an immigration reform measure in the Senate, and at least one senator isn't happy about it.
The normally even-tempered Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a sponsor of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, used his moment in front of the C-SPAN cameras this afternoon to slam his Republican colleagues for stalling the legislation.
"Where is the justice in this decision?" Durbin said, his voice raised. "At least have the courage to let us bring this matter to the floor, and stand up and vote 'no.' But to hide behind this procedural ruse - this unanimous consent request - is totally unfair."
Durbin introduced the DREAM Act in March of 2009, writing in a press release that it would "permit undocumented students to become permanent residents if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years."
The legislation became attached to the Defense Authorization Act, the spending bill that provides the military's budget. Also attached to that bill was a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military.
But through the "procedural ruse" that Durbin describes -- and a filibuster of the authorization bill on the Senate floor -- neither the DREAM Act nor the DADT repeal saw a vote today.
"The Republicans squawked about procedure and insisted on being able to debate every aspect of the Defense Bill thoroughly, but they showed their true stripes when they proposed a process of debate of unlimited amendments -- as long as no amendments were related to immigration," Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said in a statement. "They do not want to debate immigration, they do not want to defend their mass-deportation approach, and they will do almost anything to avoid even discussing it with Democrats or the American people."
Military leaders have expressed their support for the DREAM Act as a means of boosting recruitment by offering certain undocumented immigrants permanent residence through military service. Opponents of the measure view it as a veiled form of "amnesty" for those who have broken the nation's immigration laws.
Durbin's measure, and the wider authorization bill, will likely be taken up again during the lame-duck session between the November elections and the swearing-in of a new Congress in January of 2011. That Congress, which could become partially Republican-controlled, may be much less sympathetic to such a measure.
Watch Durbin attack opponents of the DREAM Act: