The Senate blocked a measure that would give illegal immigrant students a shot at citizenship after Democrats were unable to gather the necessary 60 votes to pass the bill.
With a final vote of 55-41 in favor of the bill decided on Dec. 18, the bill now stands little chance of resurrection as the House, who passed the measure on Dec. 8, shifts to a Republican majority in the upcoming year.
Despite garnering bipartisan support during its introduction, the bill ultimately appeared too much to swallow for most Republicans. Only three Republican senators voted for the bill; five Democratic senators voted against it. Both Colorado Sens., Democrats Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, voted in favor of the measure. Those opposed to the bill denounced it as an backdoor amnesty towards illegal immigrants.
The bill, known as the Dream Act, would have allowed students who entered the Unites States before age 16 to build a path towards citizenship with enrollment in a college or service in the armed forces.
During the weeks leading up to a vote in Congress supporters nationwide participated in hunger strikes, assembled in front of government offices and held vigils in support of the bill.
Democratic Colorado congressman and advocate for the bill Jared Polis said the decision was terribly disappointing. “I want to reassure young Americans that it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “I know how difficult patience is. We have to assure that the senators who opposed the Dream Act pay a political price and lose their seats.”
The night before the Senate decided on the fate of the Dream Act, 19-year-old Yamili stayed at a church alongside six other “Dreamers,” who passed the entire night, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., singing songs, reciting prayers and holding discussions. She is attending college despite being an illegal immigrant and was counting on the bill to help her earn scholarships. She asked to have her last name omitted. “More than anything, I feel a bit anguished,” she said. “But I know that justice comes at the right time. “No longer able to fund her college expense, Yamili is one semester shy of earning her associate’s degree. “A social security number does not define who we are,” she said. “More than anything, I feel like the country has failed us. Our representatives have failed us.”