The Dream Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall, with heavy bipartisan backing and the support of Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. But like the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2003, or Ag Jobs, which also looked bound for passage until some recent mind-boggling legislative maneuvers, it has fallen prey to the Bush administration’s reluctance to do anything that might rouse the ire of the nativist right.
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And the White House, it is clear, has made a strategic calculation. Karl Rove knows perfectly well that the Latino vote is growing and is an increasing factor in such swing states as Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. But he also knows that the president’s half-hearted steps toward immigration reform were greeted by a storm of protest from anti-immigrant forces in the very same states, and that Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) actually incurred a primary challenge (which he beat back) because he had co-authored Ag Jobs in the House.
So once again, George W. Bush has decided that the votes he’ll fish for are all on the right. Gone are any illusions that he can do better among Latino voters than he did in 2000. Now, it’s John Kerry who’s campaigning on his support for Ag Jobs and the Dream Act, and immigrant rights advocates who are registering new voters by the tens of thousands in such immigrant-heavy locales as Orlando and Phoenix.
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