Democrats on Tuesday failed to earn the support of a single Rebublican on a measure that would have created a path to citizenship for children who came into the country illegally with their families.
The DREAM Act was tacked onto a military spending bill and another that would have advanced a repeal of 1993's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Republican's argued the two measures weren't related to defense and had no place in the bill. Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate on the spending bill and bring it to a vote.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who introduced the DREAM Act in March 2009, was clearly upset by the 53-43 vote but said he'll continue fighting and vowed to bring it back for another vote.
"Where is the justice in this decision? At least have the courage to let us bring this matter to the floor and stand up and vote 'No.' But to hide behind this procedural ruse -- this unanimous consent request -- is totally unfair," he said from the floor of the Senate.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would grant citizenship to children who came here illegally when they were younger than 15 and who have lived in the United States for at least five years. They'd also have to be high school graduates.
But opponents contend the measure is a form of amnesty and would cost too much.
In Chicago, a group of about two dozen people gathered in front of Republican headquarters Tuesday morning to gain support. The group included undocumented young people, like 23-year-old Irera Unzueta, who has been in the U.S. since she was seven.
"We have so much talent and we have so much energy and we are so ready to continue helping and contributing, but we're just not allowed that chance," she said.
Several Chicago business owners also stood in support.
"How can we so 'No' to our future?" asked Edie Batres, a Rebublican business owner.
"We want to stop dreaming," said Netza Roldan of the Mexican American Business Development Council. "We want this dream to become a reality."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to continue to push for the bill, although it was not immediately clear whether he would try to attach it to another bill before Congress adjourns.