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Pressure Mounts on LeMieux to Support DREAM Act

Immigration reform advocates have been honing in on Sen. George LeMieux as a potential ally in their campaign to pass the DREAM Act, and now the Florida Republican is facing added pressure from a lawmaker from his home state.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) hand-delivered a letter to LeMieux on Thursday urging his support for the DREAM Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for children in the country illegally if they serve in the military or go to college. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that he plans to attach the measure to the defense authorization bill, which he hopes to bring to the floor next week.

Meek is running for the Senate seat being vacated by LeMieux, who was appointed in 2009 after Republican Sen. Mel Martinez resigned.

“I strongly urge you to vote in favor of including the DREAM Act,” Meek wrote. He emphasized that Florida “stands much to gain” from the bill in terms of reducing high school dropout rates and boosting the pool of nurses, teachers and military recruits.

Additionally, “Florida has had a standing tradition of bipartisan support for immigration reform with Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez helping lead the way with their sponsorship of the DREAM Act,” Meek said. “On the House side, the legislation enjoys bipartisan support with eight Florida Members currently signed on as co-sponsors.”

An immigration overhaul advocate said he was not sure what motivated Meek to hand-deliver his letter to LeMieux, but he welcomed the action. “It is a chance for him to do the right thing and help his campaign,” the advocate said.

Meek’s letter comes a day after immigration overhaul advocates stormed the offices of LeMieux and four other GOP Senators to stage “pray-ins.” They showed up unannounced in each Senator’s office to request a meeting and, when turned away, got down on the floor to pray for the lawmaker’s support.

LeMieux has stayed mum about how he plans to vote, although the Miami Herald reported Thursday that he said earlier in the week that he wanted to see the language of the legislation before deciding.