Latino News and Opinion

Dream Act: Hutchison's Dream Dance
Por Edward Schumacher-Matos   
13:03 | 12/18/10

 Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has been tying herself in knots over the pending Dream Act. The Texan reflects the predicament of many of her Republican colleagues from states with large Hispanic populations.

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 Obama tiene un largo camino por andar en el "Área de su Credibilidad" entre Latinos. 

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The problem is that he borrowed another blank check from the people.

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Pero en sus manos quedó otro cheque en blanco....

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A protracted campaign looms now in the horizon, both in the primary and general elections.

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Una prolongada campaña se vislumbra en el horizonte, tanto en las elecciones primarias como en las generales.

Read AL DIA NEWS Spanish Translation here: 
  Dream Act: El idílico baile de la Senadora Hutchinson   
Dream Act supporters have honed in on Hutchison and a handful of other Senate Republicans to vote for the House-passed act in the current lame-duck session. So far, Dick Lugar of Indiana and Bob Bennett of Utah are the only ones to have signaled they will vote for the bill, making its prospects bleak.

     But refusing to give up, 16 demonstrators were recently arrested at Hutchison's office in my former hometown of San Antonio. Others have been pressing at her offices in Dallas and Washington. Some have fasted for weeks.

     Hutchison reminds me in many ways of a Republican Hillary Clinton. She is sensible, political, polite and, beneath the surface, tough as nails. But, curiously, the fire left her belly in her disastrous run in the Texas gubernatorial primary this year against incumbent Rick Perry. She has not said whether she will stand again for her Senate seat in two years.

     The so-called Dream-ers see Hutchison as a moderate with a heart. She formerly supported the core of the bill, which would provide legal status to young immigrants who came illegally into the country if they go to college or join the military.

     Speaking on the Senate floor in 2007 about a virtually identical bill, she said, according to the San Antonio Express-News:

     "This is such an important piece of legislation, and I do think this is isolated from the entire immigration issue because there ... are young people who have been brought to this country as minors, not of their own doing, who have gone to American high schools, graduated, and who want to go to American colleges.

     "They are in a limbo situation. I believe we should deal with this issue. We should do it in a way that helps assimilate these young people with a college education into our country. They have lived here most of their lives. If we sent them home, they wouldn't know what home is. There is a compassionate reason for us to try to work this out."

     She still wanted then to explore some small details of the bill. But now, she has largely rejected offers to negotiate terms to push the bill through. 

     The Democrats have tried to anticipate some of her desired adjustments by lowering the age limit for eligibility to under 30 and expanding requirements to achieve citizenship, including a 10-year wait and a clean slate with the law.

     But Hutchison refuses to show her cards. Perhaps it is because she was burned by the right-wing Republican base in the gubernatorial race. But she also declines to say outright that she opposes the act's core. Latinos make up nearly a quarter of the Texas electorate and are approaching 40 percent of the population. According to a recent LatinoDecisions poll, 86 percent of Latino voters in Texas favor the Dream Act.

     So Hutchison dances. She leaves it to her staff to say only that the bill is "too broad" or more time is needed, though the bill has been around for a decade. A few weeks ago, she proposed that affected students be given temporary student visas, but this would result in the students having to leave the country after finishing school.

     A group of conservative Republican Hispanics last week threatened to look for a Hispanic-friendly candidate to challenge Hutchison should she seek re-election. "If Hutchison punishes our children, there are going to be consequences in 2012," the group's founder, DeeDee Blase, told The Dallas Morning News.

     For now, Hutchison is safe behind a wall of Anglo Republican votes, but similar stories of Latino resentment over the Dream Act are playing out for other Republican senators. John Ensign in Nevada and Jon Kyl in Arizona, for example, are both up for re-election in two years and might find themselves fighting the rising tide of Latino votes in the West, particularly in the general elections.

     Perhaps they need to lose to find their conscience. Tellingly, of the eight Republicans who voted for the Dream Act in the House, three were Latinos and six will not be around for the next Congress.


Read AL DIA NEWS Spanish Version here: 

  Dream Act: El idílico baile de la Senadora Hutchinson 

© 2010, The Washington Post Writers Group


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