Reporter Julia Preston's "news analysis" on Sunday on the Senate defeat of legislation granting amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, known as the Dream Act by supporters ("Immigration Vote Leaves Obama's Policy in Disarray") is a reversal of the emotion displayed in her previous celebratory coverage of even the puniest symbolic gatherings of pro-"Dream Act" protesters involving as few as four students.
Preston seemed anguished about what she called a "painful setback" to granting amnesty to perhaps hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students, suggesting it was a particular setback for Obama.
The vote by the Senate on Saturday to block a bill to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students was a painful setback to an emerging movement of immigrants and also appeared to leave the immigration policy of the Obama administration, which has supported the bill and the movement, in disarray.
The bill, known as the Dream Act, gained 55 votes in favor with 41 against, a tally short of the 60 votes needed to bring it to the floor for debate. Five Democrats broke ranks to vote against the bill, while only three Republicans voted for it. The defeat in the Senate came after the House of Representatives passed the bill last week.
Preston tried to minimize the reach of the "tailored" bill.
The result, although not unexpected, was still a rebuff to President Obama by newly empowered Republicans in Congress on an issue he has called one of his priorities. Supporters believed that the bill - tailored to benefit only immigrants who were brought here illegally when they were children and hoped to attend college or enlist in the military - was the easiest piece to pass out of a larger overhaul of immigration laws that Mr. Obama supports.
Mr. Obama will now face growing pressure from immigrant and Latino groups to temper the crackdown and perhaps find ways to use executive powers to bring some illegal immigrants out of the shadows. Latino voters turned out in strength for the Democrats in the midterm elections, arguably saving their majority in the Senate.
The Times is fond of the "shadows" metaphor, but these immigrants are hardly in the shadows, as Preston showed a few paragraphs later:
Yet much pressure on the administration may come from immigrant organizations. Despite their illegal status, several hundred immigrant students watched the vote in the Senate gallery. Afterward, they held a somber prayer vigil in the basement of the Capitol, but moved on to a news conference that turned into a pep rally.
The Times often lapses into melodrama when discussing the Dream Act, and Preston didn't disappoint on Sunday.
The movement has been driven by thousands of students who "came out" to reveal that they did not have legal status, and to recount their academic achievements and the barriers they faced. Now that their status is public, they have nowhere to hide. Meanwhile, an estimated 65,000 illegal immigrants are graduating from high school each year.
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