DREAM Act Vote In The Senate Today

... And it all comes down to this, at 2:15 PM eastern the Senate will vote cloture on a motion to proceed to the Defense Authorization Legislation. As of now, Defense Authorization does not contain the DREAM Act, however Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will attach the legislation as an amendment if it passes cloture today.

It should be very clear, that while Republican's currently bemoan the fact that the DREAM Act is not germane to Defense Authorization, and say that it's inclusion will cost their vote, DREAM is not actually attached to the bill that will be voted on today.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 CRS bill summary shows that the DREAM Act has not yet been added as an amendment.

Though there is wide support for the DREAM Act, among Democrats, and military personnel, at this point it is not looking very good for the Defense Authorization bill as a whole.  Peter Shrag of the LA Times has more in his story Dashing the DREAM Act:

The chances that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can deliver on his promise to move the so-called DREAM Act toward passage in the Senate this week range from slim to none.

But the announcement that it would be added as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill has energized pro-immigrant groups, even as it underlines the fact that there'll be no comprehensive immigration reform any time in the near future. Not this year, certainly, and probably not next year either.

The article also does a great job at showing exactly what is at stake for immigrants:

The bipartisan DREAM (for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which was to have been part of comprehensive reform, would make it possible for as many as 2.1 million undocumented young immigrants to start on the path to legalization. Roughly 26% are in California. In the Senate, the leading sponsors are Republican Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Democrat Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. In the House, they are Democrats Howard L. Berman of Valley Village and Lucille Roybal-Allard of East Los Angeles and Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida.

Even if the DOD Authorization fails to move past a cloture vote today and there is no vote on the DREAM Act, it is possible that the legislation is punted to a lame duck session after the elections.

Washington Post writer Edward Schumacher-Matos notes that even if there is no vote, there may be a positive outcome for Democrats and Activists. Matos has the full story in his article Dems playing politics with immigration -- and it's good policy:

And it's about time the Democrats got politically tough, because the amendment is also good policy.

This might also help Democratic candidates in states such as California, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, where the Latino vote makes a difference. Immigration is second only to jobs in importance to Latinos, according to polls, but they were feeling forsaken by Obama and the Democrats over stalled comprehensive reform.

Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Fell Study Says

Julie Preston of the New York Times has written a piece on the drop in the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

The report entitled Number of Illegal Immigrants in the U.S. Drops, Study Says, cites a recent Pew Hispanic Report  U.S. Unauthorized Immigration Flows Are Down Sharply Since Mid-Decade:

The number of illegal immigrants in the United States, after peaking at 12 million in 2007, fell to about 11.1 million in 2009, the first clear decline in two decades....

The reduction came primarily from decreases among illegal immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico, the report found. The number of Mexicans living in the United States without legal immigration status did not change significantly from 2007 to 2009. Some seven million Mexicans make up about 60 percent of all illegal immigrants, still by far the largest national group, the Pew Center said.

However Preston notes that there is an even more important number cited in the report, the 11.1 million immigrants still in the country.

But the figure that may be most sobering to all sides in the increasingly contentious immigration debate is the estimate that more than 11 million illegal immigrants remain here. The Pew report shows that despite myriad pressures, there was no mass exodus of those immigrants to their home countries, especially not to Mexico.

This statistic indicates that despite all of the border security legislation, and all of the press coverage surrounding immigration, immigrants are not leaving.

As important as politicians think drafting legislation solely designed to secure borders, it is also equally important to figure out a way to bring those 11.1 million currently living out of the shadows.

Immigration News Round Up

A lot of immigration news this week, enjoy:

Washington Post - Headless bodies and other immigration tall tales in Arizona - Dana Milbank

The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. "Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," she announced on local television.

But those in fear of losing parts north of the neckline can relax. There's not a follicle of evidence to support Brewer's claim.

The Arizona Guardian Web site checked with medical examiners in Arizona's border counties and the coroners said they had never seen an immigration-related beheading. I called and e-mailed Brewer's press office requesting documentation of decapitation; no reply.

Two months ago, the Arizona Republic published an exhaustive report that found that, according to statistics from the FBI and Arizona police agencies, crime in Arizona border towns has been "essentially flat for the past decade." For example, "In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes." The Pima County sheriff reported that "the border has never been more secure."

Arizona Republic - Violence is not up on Arizona border despite Mexican drug war- Dennis Wagner

FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.

Los Angeles Times - Opinion - What do they really think about immigration? Don't ask

NPR - GOP Faces Internal Divide On Changes To Immigration - Mara Liasson

Some prominent conservatives are speaking out in favor of the kind of comprehensive immigration bill that many Republicans oppose — one that would include border security and then a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

As a leading evangelical conservative, Richard Land's credentials are impeccable. He heads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and from that influential perch he's been urging his fellow conservatives to rethink their opposition to the immigration overhaul.

Colbert Report - Arturo Rodriguez President of UFW

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Arizona Daily Star - Tucson firms oppose SB 1070 - Kimberly Matas

Nearly 90 Tucson business owners are showing their resistance to SB 1070 - the immigration law set to take effect July 29 - through a new "We Mean Business" campaign.

Participating business owners demonstrate their opposition to the new law with "We Mean Business" signs in the windows of their establishments. Many of the owners agree there is a need for immigration reform; however they do not think the new law is the most effective approach.

NY Daily News - Activists outside MLB offices urge Bud Selig to take stand, move 2011 All-Star Game from Arizona - Michael O'Keeffe

Arizona Daily Star - Fight SB 1070, artists urged - Rhonda Bodfield 

A group of artists, backed by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, unveiled a new coalition to fight Arizona's new immigration law Thursday, offering an alternative for acts that might otherwise cancel performances in protest.

Grijalva, who called for a limited boycott to pressure the state to reconsider the law, said artists have historically been at the forefront of social change through words and images.

Arizona Republic - Fund tied to SB 1070 nears $500,000 Donations pour in to Brewer's legal-defense repository from across U.S. - Ginger Rough

Residents throughout the United States have contributed nearly half a million dollars to a legal-defense fund set up by Gov. Jan Brewer to help fight lawsuits related to Senate Bill 1070.

As of Thursday, the fund had a nearly $500,000 balance - the result of thousands of contributions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bulk of the money, more than $330,000 of it, has rolled in this week, in the days following the federal government's decision to sue Arizona over the new immigration law.

The Daily Show - Arizona 911 -

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The Post Takes A Sober Look at What's Next for Iraq

The Washington Post has an excellent piece today taking an indepth look at whats next in Iraq.  It begins:

BAGHDAD - Maybe it was the only shot heard for days in a neighborhood once ordered by the cadence of gunfire. Perhaps it was the smiles at checkpoints and the shouts of Iraqi policemen navigating the always snarled traffic. "God's mercy on your parents," they beseeched. "God's blessings on you." Maybe it was the music box still playing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" at a kiosk overflowing with Christmas tree decorations and heart-shaped red pillows.

For anyone returning to Baghdad after spending time here during its darkest days two years ago, when it was paralyzed by sectarian hatred and overrun by gunmen sowing despair, the conclusion seemed inescapable.

"The war has ended," said Heidar al-Abboudi, a street merchant.

The war in Iraq is indeed over, at least the conflict as it was understood during its first five years: insurgency, communal cleansing, gangland turf battles and an anarchic, often futile quest to survive. In other words, civil war -- though civil war was always too tidy a term for it. The entropy, for now at least, has run its course. So have many of the forces the United States so dangerously unleashed with its 2003 invasion, turning Iraq into an atomized, fractured land seized by a paroxysm of brutality. In that Iraq, the Americans were the final arbiter and, as a result, deprived anything they left behind of legitimacy.

Not to say that there is peace in Iraq. As many people are killed today as on any day in 2003 and 2004. Nor is there victory. For any Iraqi, the word, translated into Arabic, draws a dumbfounded look. Victory for whom? Certainly not the tens of thousands of civilians -- perhaps many more -- killed in the frenzied clashes of those once inchoate forces.

Rather, it is the day after.

Baghdad feels much as southern Lebanon did after an asymmetrical war there in 2006, between Israel and Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim movement that fought Israel to a draw. Survivors rose from the rubble of their homes, offices and stores with the satisfied smile of survival -- in war, its own victory. Then they beheld the destruction the fighting had wrought around them. Their faces turned grim as they realized the task at hand.

It is perhaps the day before, too.

"We don't know what's next," Shidrak George, a bystander, said April 9, 2003, as he watched men vainly assault Saddam Hussein's statue in Firdaus Square with chains, a sledgehammer and a cascade of rocks before making way for a bulky Marine M88 armored recovery vehicle to pull it down. The vehicle stopped for no one. It didn't have to.

He said everything remained ghamidh -- mysterious and unclear.

"We want to know how this turns out."

Here for more.

Could it Be?

From the AP:

BAGHDAD (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday the two countries have agreed that timetables should be set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the battle-scarred country.

Appearing together at a news conference, Rice and Zebari mutually asserted that a final agreement between Washington and Baghdad on a withdrawal plan and accompanying strategic framework pact is close to fruition - but not there yet.

Is Cheney Tied Up Somewhere?

Austin, TX - The Administration agrees to a "time horizon" for removing our troops from Iraq. A senior diplomat is sitting down with an Iran nuclear negotiator. Secretary Gates publically calls for troops to be moved from Iraq to Afghanistan. The EPA releases a report confirming the very real and imminent threat of climate change. Bush agrees to cut greenhouse emissions at the G8. Taken together, this seems like an across-the-board repudiation of many fiercely held Bush Administation positions, all closely associated with the Vice President.

Where's Dick and his team of neocons in all this? There are of course many areas where the Administration seems deeply dug in, but change has come to the White House. Why, for what reasons, this is all happening now, it is too soon to tell. But change nevertheless has come to the White House in the final months of the Bush Administration.

1030am - Lots of talk here about Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable for withdrawal. What an extraordinary moment in what has been a remarkable political year, and what will no doubt be an important, even historic, trip abroad by U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Even Maliki has joined the neocon repudiation chorus.

1035am - Speaker Pelosi is doing a remarkable job here at Netroots Nation. I am very proud of her for recognizing the importance of this gathering, and her thoughtful and powerful presence here this morning.

1050am - Asked about her agenda, the Speaker said health care, her innovation agenda, infrastructure and green energy. And throughout her 10-ten talk, her language was modern, her understanding of the issues detailed, her ability to weave a narrative compelling. I'm not sure too many politicians of either Party could have done as good as a job as she is doing this morning.

1120am - Gore has arrived, and is just knocking the ball out of the park.  He is as good as I've ever seen him.  He has captured the room, and I have to believe has now officially engaged/involved the netroots in his crusade.  This is an important day in the development of a national movement to solve the climate crisis. 

Amazingly, Gore and Pelosi are now just sitting and taking questions. This has been a great morning.  Kudos to Gina for her stage management of this powerful session. 


Time to Lead on Energy and Climate

Buried in Wednesday’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll was this fact: 18 percent of Americans view energy and the cost of gas as the most important issues for the federal government to address. That number ranked third, behind the economy and the war in Iraq, and ten points ahead of health care. Add that to the 4 percent of Americans who see the environment and global warming and the environment as the number one issue, and 22 percent of Americans see some sort of energy concern as the most important federal issue.

Concern about the fact that only four percent see global warming as the most important issue notwithstanding, this is a welcome shift in political consciousness. The next step is for our leaders to explain why the top two issues, the economy and the war in Iraq, are actually related to energy and the cost of gas, and why confronting global warming relates to all three.

Unfortunately, political rhetoric and action is not yet where it needs to be on these issues. Instead of convincing dialogue about building a clean energy future that enhances energy and climate security, the American people get irresponsible talk from a supposedly pro-climate candidate about a gas tax holiday. The Senate debates cap and trade legislation, but won’t even extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Four dollar a gallon gasoline means that it is time to move forward to new sources of energy, not despair about the fact that the old ones aren’t working for us as well as we’d like.

High energy prices are here to stay, and the American people are struggling because of it. For now, it seems that many politicians are unwilling or unable to tell the American people that we have to innovate, not drill, out of this problem, and that there is no short-term solution.

Leadership means connecting the dots, from high energy prices, to climate change, to green collar jobs, to turmoil in the Middle East. It means realizing that four dollar a gallon gasoline is related to the Solar ITC. America is nowhere close to leading on energy, and the consequences will be grim should we take a pass on building the premier 21st century green economy. Thankfully, it seems that the market is taking hold. Companies like GM are starting to get the picture that we need to build plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt, and California is primed to install 200-250 Megawatts of solar in 2008 alone. Let’s hope political leadership can create the policy needed to support them.

McCain argues with himself

Following his recent confusion regarding the difference between Sunni and Shiite, the wheels continue to fall off Old Man McCain's straight talk express, this time courtesy of the DNC. The recently released website,, features Arizona's Senior Senator contradicting himself on a number of points on the war in Iraq by playing quotes he gave, and perhaps, like his remark on his lack of understanding of economics, or today's revelations from the New York Times on his almost-party-switching, forgot about. It concludes saying, "No matter which McCain you listen to, he only offers a third Bush term on Iraq." This website features a two pronged argument that will play prominently as Democrats turn toward McCain: First, that he is not the straight shooter he claims to be - or appeared to be in 2000 - and second, a McCain presidency offers a nothing more than a third Bush term.

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