House proponent predicts Senate filibuster will kill immigration bill

With the Senate poised to vote Saturday on legislation offering illegal immigrant students a chance to remain in the country lawfully, one of Capitol Hill's leading advocates for the DREAM Act doesn't like its chances.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said Friday that, while supporters have picked up "a few Republicans" in the Senate, a GOP filibuster will likely sink the bill.

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"It would pass if we would just let democracy work," Gutierrez said, indicating the proposal will win support from a majority of senators, but not the 60 members required to defeat a filibuster.

The Illinois Democrat also slammed Senate Republicans for what he considers their over-reliance on procedural hurdles to kill even minor Democratic initiatives.

"I thought the filibuster was for, like, going to war — not for everything," Gutierrez said.

House lawmakers passed the DREAM Act last week, but the proposal faces a much tougher road in the Senate, where even past supporters of the bill have jumped ship this year.

Of the seven Republicans to vote in favor of a similar measure in 2007, only two — Sens. Richard Lugar (Ind.) and Robert Bennett (Utah) — have committed to supporting it this time around. A number of centrist Democrats have also announced their opposition to the bill, including Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), who voted for the 2007 measure, and Jon Tester (Mont.).

A number of lawmakers, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), remained undecided.

Sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the nine-year-old DREAM Act would create a pathway to permanent residency — and, eventually, citizenship — for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, have the equivalent of a high school degree, and enter college or the military.

Supporters argue it offers motivated children the opportunity to achieve their potential, while critics maintain it would reward lawbreakers and steal jobs from U.S. citizens.

The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Saturday morning.