In a major effort to pass some sort of immigration reform legislation before the November midterms, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has attached a controversial piece of immigration legislation as a rider to a defense appropriations bill expected to be voted upon next week. While it’s not an ultimate comprehensive immigration reform bill, it is at least a step in that direction and could very well set the stage for later passage of comprehensive reform.
The current legislation Reid is pushing is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which provides a conditional pathway to citizenship for alien minors. Sliding the legislation in as a rider seems to be a last minute attempt to round up the Latino vote for Democrats in what could already be a devastating congressional midterm election for them.
Because of President Obama’s failure to act on a comprehensive immigration bill in his first year of office, activists threatened at a Washington DC rally earlier this year to not show up at the polls in November for Democrats. It appears now that Reid and his colleagues are taking that threat to heart, hoping that acting on the DREAM Act will offset some of that anger and spur Latinos to flock to the polls in November to enable Democrats to take further action.
Recently, President Obama reiterated his promise to sign a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Senator Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) will attempt to aid that promise, saying that he will introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the end of the year. While the move by Harry Reid is bound to energize the Latino segment of the population that wants comprehensive immigration reform, there is also bound to be an equal (if not greater) reaction from the conservative base on the issue. One of the ultimate implications of the DREAM Act and a comprehensive immigration bill is that it will further incentivize the conservative base to make a strong showing at the polls. This reaction also includes the Tea Party, which is not made up entirely of conservatives. Congress.org reports that Tea Party Nation, one of the national Tea Party groups, sent out an email Thursday morning seeking to mobilize opposition specifically to the DREAM Act.
By pushing the DREAM Act, the President and Congressional Democrats are seem to be antagonizing more mainstream voters as well. According to a recent Quinnipiac University national poll, mainstream voters oppose President Obama’s handling of immigration by a 60-28 percent margin. According to the same poll, 48 percent of American voters say that the United States should end the practice of granting citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. That’s followed by 45 percent who hold the opposite position.
Coincidentally, Reid’s home state of Nevada holds one of the highest illegal immigration populations in the United States.