For the second time in three months, the U.S. Senate has tried, and failed, to pass legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented college students.
Saturday morning Democratic leaders fell short of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened filibuster and move to a vote on the bill, known as the Dream Act. The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this month.
Under the Dream Act, children who were brought to the country illegally could earn legal status by attending college or joining the military. The bill would also make undocumented students eligible for some federal student aid.
Advocates say the measure would benefit the economy by helping young immigrants obtain better-paying jobs. But critics say the measure would reward illegal behavior and encourage more immigration.
The Senate majority leader, Sen. Harry M. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, has cast the bill as a down payment on a broader immigration overhaul and promised Hispanic voters in his home state that he would push for its passage. In September, he tried to attach the Dream Act to a defense reauthorization bill. But Republicans thwarted that plan, defeating a motion for the defense bill to proceed to debate.
The bill's most-recent defeat in the Senate was the latest setback in the 10-year effort to enact the Dream Act. The measure enjoys bipartisan support but has never made it through both chambers of Congress.