by Moses Apsan, Esq.
New York - December 4,2010 - The final moments of the battle to approve the Dream Act are coming near as Democrats and even Republicans brace themselves to survive the almost inevitable Republican filibuster.
The White House has finally drawn the line in the sand and has taken an aggressive stance on approval of the law during the remaining days of the lame duck congress before a more conservative Congress takes over in January.
On Monday, the White House held a Web chat on the DREAM Act with Cecilia Munoz, the director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
"We have engaged members of the president's cabinet," Munoz said, rattling off people and agencies like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, each of which has said the DREAM Act is crucial to their missions." It's kind of an all hands on deck moment here in the administration, involving multiple agencies," Munoz said. "The president himself is engaged.
"We're going to do everything we can to lay the groundwork and create the space for people who know this population of students to do what they know is the right thing to do," Munoz said.
During the short window of opportunity before the 112th congress begins, some Latino Republicans are taking the bold step and crossing the aisle in order to help pass the DREAM act. Along with President Obama and thousands of religious and educational organizations, they want to bring the tragedy these children suffer to a close.
Although Reid vowed earlier this month to bring a vote on a stand-alone Dream Act bill during the lame-duck session, he has been unable to keep in line his 58-member caucus. It's in doubt if he'll be able to get the 60 votes needed to defeat a GOP filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Reid has fought tirelessly for the Dream Act, even during his difficult campaign against Sharron Angle, an anti-immigration candidate. Were it not for the Latino votes, he might have lost the election. Reid released a statement that spoke to Republicans directly:
"Last time we sought to bring up this bill, all Republicans blocked our effort, even though many have been supporters of the DREAM Act in the past. I hope that our Republican colleagues will join me, Sen. Durbin and Democrats in passing this important piece of legislation, now that we have a stand-alone version and that political season is over."
At the same time, in the House, there is an almost frenetic movement toward passage of a Dream Act-type bill. According to the DREAM Act's most vocal congressional advocates, they are positive but cautious.
"The core group of House members who support immigration reform and the DREAM Act have been reaching out throughout the Democratic House caucus," Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez told ColorLines "From what we are hearing back, I am encouraged by the breadth of Democratic support."
Rep. Gutierrez has been the loudest voice in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. He is the Chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force, and is the Party's leading strategist and spokesperson on immigration issues. Gutierrez has long fought for a comprehensive immigration reform solution, and has emerged as the DREAM Act's most active advocate.
Republican are moving toward support of the Dream Act. Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) contacted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in support of the Dream Act. Another Republican congressman-elect, David Rivera of Miami, also supports the DREAM act, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
"The drumbeat is getting louder," Frank Sharry , executive director of America's Voice told the Sun Sentinel. "Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate and secure America's future with the extremely popular, bipartisan DREAM Act."
It is expected that a version of the DREAM Act could be on the floor for a vote in the House Wednesday or Thursday this week, where it appears that there is greater support than in the Senate. House Democrats are conducting a study to determine the bill's exact numbers. 218 is needed to pass the Act in the House, but insiders say that the numbers look good so far.
Will the White House support, Gutierrez's mania and the diligent work of Sen. Harry Reid surmount the anti-immigrant attitude of the Republicans? It's impossible to foretell. Most Republicans want complete security of the border before any type of aid for these undocumented children, a goal that simply is unreachable -- and they know it.