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DREAM Act blocked in Senate

A measure that would have offered provisional legal status to some adults who came to America illegally as children failed to advance in a Senate vote Saturday.

Democratic backers of the legislation fell short of the 60 votes to move the DREAM Act legislation forward. Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana, Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted against bringing the bill to the floor; Republican Sens. Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, and Robert Bennett voted for it.

The vote was 55-41.

The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act would have allowed illegal immigrants with a high school diploma or a GED to apply for conditional U.S. status if they are under the age of 30 and arrived the U.S. before the age of 16. After a long process -- including two years of service in the military or enrollment in college -- they would then have been eligible to apply for legal immigrant status.

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who led GOP opposition against the legislation, called the measure “amnesty” and argued that it "incentivizes" illegal immigration. GOP opponents also noted that it would have allowed some illegal immigrants with criminal records to gain citizenship.

Advocates of the measure tried to target senators from states with high Latino populations, saying that the DREAM Act would reward hard work by young adults who were brought to the United States by no fault of their own.

Majority Leader Harry Reid originally scheduled a vote on the legislation last week but abruptly postponed it in favor of taking up the House's version of the bill during the final days of the lame duck session.