The House voted 216 to 198 to pass the Dream Act -- with just 8 Republicans voting in favor: including Miami's three Cuban-American lawmakers, Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Now the bill faces an uphill climb in the Senate where activists today pressured Florida Republican George LeMieux to vote for the measure. He's said he won't without border security measures.
"The president promised to pass immigration reform in the first twelve months of his administration. Just another broken promise," Diaz-Balart said. "Instead of passing meaningful legislation to secure our borders, to protect our national security and address the millions of people who are here undocumented living among us; This Congress has refused to do so Madam Speaker. Now on the merits, those who stand to benefit from this bill include thousands of young adults who were raised in our country and really know no other country but America, they simply wish to pursue the American dream and have the opportunity to study, to work hard and to serve in our armed forces.
"They are exactly the type of people that we want in this, the United States of America. I therefore urge my colleagues to support this legislation today."
Other Florida Republicans -- including two said to be interested in challenging Bill Nelson for reelection in 2012 -- blasted the measure: "Amnesty rewards people who break our laws, and encourages more illegal immigration," said Sarasota Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan. "Instead of granting amnesty, Congress should secure the border and make English the official language."
Said Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral: "What we shouldn't be doing ... is passing legislation that gives individuals who are living in this country the same benefits provided to U.S. citizens. The Senate should scrap the Dream Act and Congress should get to work on improving border security and enforcement."