Far from being discouraged by the Senate’s decision Thursday to postpone a DREAM Act vote until next week, the immigration bill’s supporters are optimistic that the step will help keep the bill alive and give them time to secure the 60-vote minimum needed to proceed.
“This is good,” said Roberto Juarez, co-founder of the Maryland DREAM Youth Committee. “We have more time now. The Senate is doing this because this is the best chance it has to pass.”
Juarez sat in the House chamber Wednesday night and watched as six of Maryland’s eight U.S. representatives voted for the legislation, which provides a conditional path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the country as children and attend college or serve in the military for two years.
Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore; Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington; John Sarbanes, D-Towson; Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington voted for the bill, which passed by a 216-198 vote. Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, was the only Maryland Democrat to vote against the bill.
The DREAM Act’s House victory is a testament to the legislation’s building momentum that could push its passage in the Senate, Juarez said.
Leading up to the House vote, Juarez and his group’s members targeted Kratovil by “getting as many calls as we could to his office,” Juarez said.
We were hoping that Congressman Kratovil would vote for the bill,” Juarez said.
But Juarez was expecting the “no” vote from Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, who opposes the DREAM Act, arguing that it is tantamount to mass amnesty that encourages illegal behavior.
“But we have a lot of support in Maryland,” Juarez said. “Congressman Kratovil and Congressman Bartlett are going to be the only ones in Maryland to vote against it.”
Kratovil’s vote against the DREAM Act was not unexpected. Last year, Kratovil supported the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act to strengthen penalties for unauthorized immigration.
“Rep. Kratovil did not like that this immigration bill didn’t include any provisions to improve enforcement” and did not include improvements to the work visa system, said Kratovil spokesman Kevin Lawlor.
– By Capital News Service’s Michaelle Bond