How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

DREAM Act supporters are back at it after bill is reintroduced

DREAM Act supporters hang a banner over the 101 Freeway downtown before the Senate vote last Tuesday, September 21, 2010
DREAM Act supporters hang a banner over the 101 Freeway downtown before the Senate vote last Tuesday, September 21, 2010 Photo courtesy of Cyndi BePhoto courtesy of Cyndi Bendezu, UCLA Downtown Labor Center

After the failure last week of a Senate bill carrying the DREAM Act to gain sufficient votes for cloture, supporters of the long-running proposed legislation have been granted what they wished for, more or less: a stand-alone bill. And while it's unlikely that it will come up for a vote this legislative session, supporters are once again trying to rally legislative votes in case it does.

On Wednesday, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, which had been attached to a defense authorization bill that came up for a vote last Tuesday, failing 56-43. The proposed legislation, versions of which have existed for almost a decade, would grant legal status to undocumented youths who arrived here at age 15 or younger if they attend college or join the military.

The news came as a relief to dejected supporters, among them undocumented college students who had spent the previous week calling legislators, working from a series of makeshift phone banks.

"We're really thankful," said Carlos Amador, a 25-year-old UCLA graduate student who has been here since he was six, brought by his parents, but has never been able to adjust his status. "We're genuinely excited to see that the DREAM Act is not dead."

There is also still the option that the bill could be attached to something else. On Tuesday, following the no-cloture vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion to reconsider, which would allow the bill to be taken up again following the November election.

It's unlikely that a vote will occur sooner, but supporters have gone back to making phone calls to legislators, this time focusing pressure on Reid and Durbin. A vigil is planned for tonight in Santa Ana; a town hall meeting is planned for later in the week.

"We have about two more weeks until they get out of session," Amador said. "We have to continue to pressure the senators and make sure they get to it."

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